PARIS – The first time Max Mirnyi stepped to the line in the French Open men’s doubles final on Saturday, the Bryan twins kept him serving for nearly four minutes, holding him hostage on three break points and numerous deuces.
Mirnyi and his partner, Daniel Nestor, finally broke the spell and won the game to tie the score at 1-1. It seemed an omen. The Bryans were alert and combative, key qualities in the shootout world of doubles.
But looks were deceiving. Mike Bryan lost his serve in the fifth game, and the match settled into a seesaw struggle.
Mirnyi and Nestor prevailed, 6-4, 6-4, to win the men’s doubles title for the second straight year at Roland Garros.
”Unbelievable; it’s a great feeling,” said Nestor, who discounted his own play and praised his partner. ”Max was, you know, very solid from start to finish. He played great. He carried us. You know, that was important today.”
The winners seemed oddly deflated and said their opponents had not had a good day. The Bryans confirmed that assessment but insisted that the better team had won.
”It’s disappointing because we had been playing some really good ball,” Bob Bryan said. ”But, you know, they hit some great serves when they needed it. Yeah, it stings right now, but hopefully we can take some positives and, you know, learn from it and work harder.”
The Bryans have won 11 doubles Grand Slam championships, second only to the 12 titles won by John Newcombe and Tony Roche.
In a tense first set, the Bryans had only one break point and lost it. Mirnyi and Nestor had only two break points and won one – all they needed to take the set in 37 minutes. Nestor capped it with a sharply angled forehand volley for a clean winner.
Seeded second here behind Mirnyi and Nestor, Bob and Mike Bryan won the two teams’ most recent match, 6-2, 6-3, in Monte Carlo in April.
In the first game of the second set, Mirnyi and Nestor returned the favor of holding the Bryans hostage, keeping Bob serving for 13 minutes through a flurry of break points and deuces. The Bryans won it, but the ordeal wasn’t over. Serving in the third game, the Bryans became trapped in a 10-minute game.
This time they lost it, to trail, 2-1. Soon Mirnyi and Nestor led by 4-2, and the Bryans were running out of chances.
Still, the Bryans had their moments. In one of the best, Bob Bryan won a three-shot point-blank shootout against Nestor. But it was too brief. On the next point, Nestor drilled a backhand volley crosscourt to win the game. The Bryans were down, 3-5.
During an exchange in the final game, Mike Bryan saved three shots but not the seventh. A moment later, he blocked a backhand volley into the open court for a winner. Then he forced Mirnyi into slapping a backhand long. The score was 30-30. But not for long.
At the first match point, Nestor served to Mike Bryan, who unleashed a backhand that Mirnyi couldn’t handle. But Nestor aced Bob Bryan to gain a second, and final, match point.
Then Mike Bryan’s forehand return sailed long, and the match was over, in 95 minutes.
This is a more complete version of the story than the one that appeared in print.
For tennis sport news and tennis apparel. Click here.