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Identical, at least on the outside
“Santa Fe omelet,” Mike started. “No cheese. Hash browns. Can I get a fruit bowl, too?”
“You need bread?” the server asked.
“No bread,” Mike said.
“Same order for me,” Bob said.
“No cheese?” the server asked.
“Same everything,” he answered.
That’s the essence of the Bryan brothers, the world’s top doubles team and identical twins: same favorite band (Dave Matthews), movie (“Dumb and Dumber”), sports team (Los Angeles Lakers), food (Mexican) and sushi (spicy tuna on crispy rice). They finish each other’s sentences. They spend nearly every moment together, whether on court or on stage with their father in the Bryan Bros. Band.
But same everything? Not quite.
The 29-year-olds, in town for the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, recently took a personality test on Braintypes.com, a Web site that breaks people into 16 distinct personality types. The Bryans‘ tests concluded Mike was more analytical and Bob more creative — a description both say is accurate.
“We have different brain-types,” Bob said. “But we have the same interests, and we like the same stuff.”
And then there’s the oncourt play. Bob’s left-handed with a better serve, while Mike’s right-handed and a better returner. The complementary roles and obvious chemistry have resulted in five Grand Slam titles, including four of the last eight. They also have won the past two Legg Masons at William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center, where they beat Paul Goldstein and Tripp Phillips 6-3, 6-4 last night in their first match of this year’s tournament.
“Most teams can’t stand each other after a year or two,” Mike said. “We know we’ll never give up on each other. That gives us an extra boost of confidence. We can lose a few matches, and I know Bob’s not going to quit on me and I’m not going to quit on him.”
As a result, the Bryans have found tremendous success together in a field that accentuates individual play. Most players dabble in doubles but try to sustain energy for singles play. But the Bryans have made their doubles matches a must-see.
They committed almost exclusively to doubles in 2001, when Bob and Mike were ranked 116th and 246th, respectively, in singles play. Mike was struggling with hand, knee and wrist injuries and stomach ailments stemming from an allergy to gluten, which is in wheat and oat products. (That’s why Mike turned down bread with his omelet — an allergy Bob doesn’t have).
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
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