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Identical, at least on the outside
Question of the Day
Bob and Mike Bryan were about to explain their similarities when a server approached at Key Bridge Marriot in Arlington to take their breakfast order.
"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).
The Bryan brothers desperately wanted to play in Davis Cup matches but weren't good enough to do it individually. They proposed becoming a doubles team to U.S. captain Patrick McEnroe.
"You guys have to be No.1 in the world," the Bryans recalled McEnroe telling them. "You have to be a shoo-in and be best in the world. I have to have confidence in you every time."
The Bryans have lived up to that expectation — particularly in Davis Cup play, in which they have combined for an 11-1 mark. The twins had a 51-6 record this year headed into the Legg Mason and have won seven of their 40 career titles in 2007.
The Bryans' agent, John Tobias, said their bonuses and endorsement deals with companies like Adidas are similar to those of a top-10 singles player but declined to offer a specific figure.
"A lot of our incentives were in doubles with our contracts," Bryan said. "These companies wanted us to play doubles, and they could market us a bit better. The bottom line — we [couldn't have] made more money than we had on the doubles court."
By Scott Pinsker
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