Bryan Brothers: One Last, Great Davis Cup Win

WASHINGTON, March 9, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Bob and Mike Bryan ended their remarkable Davis Cup career Saturday evening in Honolulu. The twin brothers, the winningest Davis Cup doubles team, celebrated their 25th win with one last iconic chest bump. It was a fitting end to their Davis Cup career and their victory lifted the United States into the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals in November.

The Bryans defeated Denis Istomin and Sanjar Fayziev of Uzbekistan, 6-3, 6-4, that gave the U.S. a 3-0 lead in their Qualifiers tie at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center on an indoor hard court. The U.S would increase its finally tally to 4-0 after Tommy Paul beat Istomin in a dead rubber singles match. However, on this day, the Bryans were the center of everyone’s attention.

After the Bryans secured their win, they were joined on court by their youthful (all in their young 20s) U.S. Davis Cup teammates – Paul, Reilly Opelka and Taylor Fritz – and by team captain Mardy Fish, whom the brothers played with on the last U.S. team to win the Davis Cup in 2007. Each of the players took turns parading the American flag while taking a collective victory lap around the court. As red, white and blue confetti rained down upon the Americans, they were definitely in a celebratory mood. Soon, they would pose for photographs at center court holding the Stars and Stripes while sporting big smiles.

“We knew we wanted to treat this like a huge match,” said Mike Bryan during the brothers’ post-tie press conference. “We really wanted to perform well on our last Davis Cup match and wanted to clinch.

“But it’s different with the young guys. They are so fun to be around. I think it’s just a great crop of guys, all solid dudes. And, then, playing for Mardy was a blast, having him on the court, seeing him. We have been around for so many years, having one of our peers coach us.

“We really wanted to come out and play a great match in our last match, and I thought we did. I thought we both played a high quality match.”

Fish told that he appreciated having the Bryans at one more tie. “They’re an awesome team and I don’t think it could have worked out more perfect to have the guys win (Friday) and set them up for a clincher. They’ve been so good at that throughout the years,” he said.

The Bryans, 41, who played their first Davis Cup tie in 2003, plan to retire following this summer’s US Open. Would they go to Madrid if asked? “We’d love to be part of the USA team in any capacity, just to come and hang out with the guys, help out with the doubles, adding any bit of expertise,” said Bob Bryan. “But, yeah, just to be cheerleaders, Net Heads.”

Looking back on Saturday evening’s match, one of many highlights came late in the second set when Bob Bryan hit an around-the-net post shot for a winner. It happened in the eighth game of the second set when a back-and-forth, ping-pong exchange at the net saw Istomin hit a net cord ball that ricocheted wide of the net post, which enabled Bryan to achieve the nearly impossible winner for a 5-3 lead.

“Yeah, it was cool to pull a highlight out of that match,”  said Bob Bryan, who with his brother celebrated the moment with a jumping chest bump. “Doubles can be quick-paced and a lot of short points. It was fun to be a part of a point with good reflex volleys with Mike.

“I knew when he hit that angle and hit the net, I knew I had to be patient and let that thing get the width. Once I saw the geometry, I knew what I had to do. I just went for the low skimmer. If you can make those, they are unplayable, but it was a fun one.”

The Bryans were asked what kind of feeling it was for them – knowing it was their last Davis Cup match – one in which they helped advance the U.S. to the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid. “We’re always happy to do our job,” said Mike Bryan. “We treat these matches like huge Grand Slam matches. And to, you know, clinch – we had only done that a few times in our career – had the opportunity with the 2-0 lead to clinch, and (it) feels really good. There’s no more special moment than running around with the flag at home, the crowd cheering.

“So, you know, to leave our Davis Cup career with that memory, that highlight … was awesome. … To win our 25th match for the country is pretty awesome.”