- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 5, 2006

Wayne Bryan interrupted his twin sons’ lunch in the players’ dining room to deliver welcome news: He wanted to take Bob and Mike to Chipotle to get burritos.

Bob and Mike Bryan had been eating a yoga instructor’s dream of fruit, yogurt and plain pasta. “I love Chipotle,” Mike said as he dropped his plastic fork in excitement. “This is nothing.”

It is no surprise that the Bryan brothers are not yogurt fans. These are chest-bumping, leaping, high five-giving tennis players trapped in frat boy bodies. But it is those normal-guy vibes and exciting oncourt celebrations that have made the Bryan brothers the most marketable doubles team on the ATP tour — that and the whole No.1 doubles world ranking thing.

With a 47-9 record this year and four titles, including Wimbledon and the Australian Open, the Bryans are the faces of the ATP’s revamped doubles game, known as the Doubles Revolution.

The Revolution includes several major rule changes and a new marketing strategy. The most notable changes are in the scoring system, which features two sets with no-ad scoring, basically sudden death at 40-40. If teams split sets, a tiebreaker, first to 10 points, will be played to decide the match.

These rules changes, which went into effect Jan.1 under new doubles commissioner Gayle David Bradshaw, also call for increased promotional materials and better scheduling to create marquee matches for fans.

“I think we are all really happy, all the doubles guys,” Mike Bryan said. “There has been life injected into doubles with the promotions and more matches on stadium courts. It just feels like we are finally getting our attention and slowly they are putting the spotlight on doubles, which is pretty cool. It hasn’t been like that. We have always been pushed off to the side. We feel like we are now part of the entertainment, part of the package.”

The Bryan brothers originally filed suit against the ATP when the first proposed rule changes stated that only players entered in the singles draw could compete in doubles — basically ending the Bryans’ career since they always have been doubles specialists.

Bob and Mike said they idolized the famed Jensen brothers when they were younger. They even conceded practicing the chest bumps to be more like Luke and Murphy Jensen. But they said there are drawbacks to playing doubles with your brother — mainly that they are brothers.

“It is tough to talk to your brother, especially on the court,” Mike said. “We play our best when we are not really telling each other what to do. There is always going to be one guy who is going to be playing better, and he just has to shut his mouth and not get on the other twin.”

Said Bob: “Sensitivity is always enhanced when you are brothers. You take stuff a little more personal, but we try to keep stuff as professional as we can. But that’s not always the case.”

Then both sarcastically chimed in, “Yeah, we never fight.”

No matter what the day-to-day status of their sibling rivalry might be, they are still the team to beat in every tournament they enter. The Bryans currently hold the top position in the Stanford ATP Doubles Race by 181 points. The Bryan brothers will face Dmitry Tursunov and Igor Kunitsyn in the semifinals after defeating Paul Goldstein and Jim Thomas 6-2, 6-7 (5), 1-0 (10-6, match tiebreak) last night.

The Bryans have helped lead the U.S. Davis Cup team to the semifinals, but more importantly, they have become ambassadors of the doubles game to the entire nation.

“When we won our first grand slam [the French Open] in 2003, we knew we now had a chance to make a difference in doubles,” Bob said. “We have more of a voice, now that people take us a little more seriously, and we’ve been doing everything we can — clinics, talking to kids, photo shoots. Any of the promotional stuff we can do, we just jump on it. Doubles is thriving in the U.S. With all the USTA leagues and programs and Mike and I doing so well, I think we are drawing kids in to the game.”

And American tennis officials are thankful.

“They are almost single-handedly carrying doubles,” said Patrick McEnroe, the U.S. Davis Cup captain. “They have great personalities and they love what they do and bring a lot of excitement and enthusiasm to the game. … I think they are fully responsible for whatever success happens to the game of doubles.”

Even with the success and newfound responsibility to the game that has been their livelihood, Bob and Mike are still just regular guys. They said they don’t get recognized much in public and still joke about the lack of women to date in their hometown of Camarillo, Calif.

Maybe if they win the Legg Mason they will find suitable girlfriends on their way to Chipotle.

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