(AP) Grand Slam slips away from Bryan brothers
By EDDIE PELLS
AP National Writer
With history on the line, the Bryan brothers finally met their match.
Trying to become only the second men’s doubles team to win all four Grand Slam tournaments in a single year, Bob and Mike Bryan saw their bid end with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 loss Thursday to Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek in the U.S. Open semifinals.
For nearly 12 months, a span that included 28 straight wins in Grand Slam matches, seemingly every bounce and every bit of luck went the Bryans’ way. It put them two wins away from joining the 1951 Aussie team of Ken McGregor and Frank Sedgman as only the second to capture the calendar Slam in men’s doubles.
But on a blustery afternoon in Arthur Ashe Stadium _ their third appearance there of the tournament _ the 35-year-old identical twins ran into a pair of fast-handed veterans who have never backed down from them.
This match was no different.
Less than an hour after the Bryans lost, some good news for American doubles: Venus and Serena Williams rolled through the top-seeded defending champions, Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani, to take their spot in the semifinals.
It would be the 14th Grand Slam doubles title for the sisters. Serena is also two wins away from a second straight singles title here.
The Bryans, meanwhile, remain stuck on 15 Grand Slam championships and must “settle” for the “Bryan Slam” _ the four straight majors they won starting at Flushing Meadows last year, when they beat Paes and Stepanek in the final. They capped that slam, making them the first team since McGregor and Sedgman to hold all four titles at once, at Wimbledon in July.
Already guaranteed of finishing first in the rankings for a record ninth time, the Bryans will take some time off and figure out what that next goal is.
They will try to set aside this loss quickly.
After capturing only a single point on the Bryans’ serve in the first set and watching them commit not a single unforced error, Paes and Stepanek looked like they might provide a short afternoon of work for the brothers.
But things changed suddenly. Paes upped his game, started picking off volleys for easy winners when his partner was serving and playing dink and dunk against the Bryans the rest of the time.
Paes’ change of pace left the Bryans stuck in cement. There was no escape act to make this time, the way they did when they switched sides for their return games after losing the first set in the third round _ or when they saved two set points in the first set of the quarterfinals.
They fell behind by two breaks in the third set and actually clawed back to get one of them back. But Stepanek served out the final game at love. Instead of the match ending with the trademark “Bryan Bump,” Stepanek leaped into Paes’ arms and then they did a nifty little side-shuffle dance in front of their chairs on the sideline.
The Stepanek-Paes team improved to 4-4 lifetime against the Bryans and added another chapter to a nice little story of their own. Stepanek was out of action after neck surgery this year following the Australian Open.
While they move on, the Bryans take some time to make some sense of it all. Out of answers on a Grand Slam court for the first time in a year, they started coming to grips with the opportunity that slipped away.