Every time somebody starts riding their persnickety high horse, saying that American tennis ain't what it used to be, I think of those knuckle-bumping, chest-thumping gurus, the guys that break doubles records like they are bad habits, the dudes that ooze enthusiasm for the sport, the No. 1's, the real deals...
I'm talking about the Bryan Bros, and if you begin or end a discussion about American tennis without mentioning them, you have most certainly been remiss. And you're probably not as proud of American Tennis as you deserve to be.
The California kids were up to their usual hijinks (hint, hint, click link to see tweener) in London today when they defeated the German-Austrian pairing of Jurgen Melzer and Philipp Petzschner, 6-7 (4), 7-5, 10-5. Down a set and a break, the three-time Barclays ATP World Tour Final champions were basically walking the plank. Then, as their opponents served for the match, it began: a veritable clinic on how to simultaneously control and feed off your emotions in a time of great distress. All at once, the Bryan Brothers became pillars of focus, dialing in their rapid-fire volleys, dispatching each with purpose, directing them to specific spots on the court, and instinctively knowing what responses they would elicit. It was pure unadulterated jedi mind-tricking, and it was beautiful.
Sure, it was doubles, a form of tennis not typically plastered on billboards, discussed on the splash pages of ESPN, or, even televised. But just because the mainstream doesn't cover doubles tennis as fervently as it does singles, doesn't mean that Americans shouldn't be immensely proud of what the Bryan Brothers are achieving on a year-in year-out basis. We should revel in their uncanny greatness, and when somebody starts telling us that "American tennis sucks," we should carry a glossy photo of the Bryan Brothers chest-bumping after winning a Grand Slam, so that we can provide them with evidence of the fact that no, we do not, in fact, suck.
Yesterday, the Bryan Brothers snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, and that didn't suck either. To put it another way: Rafael Nadal may be Spanish and Roger Federer may be Swiss, but goddammit the Bryan Brothers are American, and for that I am thankful.
Even if American tennis fans tend to downplay the significance of their dominance, it doesn't stop the Bryan Bros. from doing what they do: winning in style, with style, and for the cause.
So, if you ever find yourself in need of a bandwagon to join, a place to come when you want to feel pride...the Bryans should be your guys.
The Bryan Bros will continue their quest for a fourth Barclays ATP World Tour final on Wednesday.