Saturday, January 29, 2011


Top seeds Bryan Brothers have beaten the Indian Express pair of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes to win their 5th Australian Open Men's Doubles Grand Slam title and their 10th overall... just 1 away from the world record (in the Open Era) of 11 Grand Slams as a team held by the Woodies.

Lee - Hesh were searching for their first Australian Open win in Men's Doubles to complete their respective Career Grand Slams in Men's Doubles... but sadly, it was not to be! The American pairing of Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan won the finals comfortably 6-3 6-4, breaking Leander's serve in the 1st set and Mahesh's serve in the 2nd.

The match started on a very surprising note. In the first game of the match on Bob Bryan's serve, the Indian Express raced ahead to a 0-40 lead. They had 3 break points on the better server between the Bryan Brothers... and I am sure even they wouldn't have expected something like this so early in the match. But then Bob and Mike won their next 5 points to hold service... and the Indian Express must have realised (just as their fans did) that they had missed an opportunity that was unlikely to present itself again all through the match.

Sure enough, the Bryan twins faced just 1 more break point again in the match (I think it was on Mike Bryan's serve in the 2nd set), which they duly saved. The key, eventually was that they were able to convert 2 of the 4 break point chances that they were presented with... 1 in each set.

In that very first game of the match on Bob Bryan's serve, on the second point, he committed a Double Fault. That remained their only Double Fault for the entire match (the Indians had 4). But that is not the point I am trying to make! They were obviously the better servers... and everyone knew that even before the match began! The point is... after that particular Double Fault, Bob Bryan's services in the deuce court were absolutely brilliant. Some of them were down the line, some viciously wide and spinning wider... and most of them unreturnable! Mahesh Bhupathi faced the brunt of them in the 1st set and Leander Paes in the 2nd.

I am not very sure, but I think that all of Bob's aces were in the deuce court and all of Mike's were in the ad court (Bob definitely had more). The Indian pair could manage a total of just 1 ace between them. And the biggest point of difference between them tonight was a point acknowledged by Mahesh Bhupathi in the post-match presentation ceremony was the first serve percentage.

83%. That was the 1st serve percentage of the Bryan Brothers. 86% in the 1st set and 81% in the 2nd set. Lee - Hesh could manage just 64%. The match was won on the weight of this statistic alone!

Overall though, while watching the match, I had a feeling that Lee - Hesh were not very authoritative on their net points and volleys. I know that Bryan brothers don't allow to many free balls at the net, but even when they did have the chance, they could not hit booming winners. Most of their volleys were intercepted by the Bryans and even though the Indian pair did win a lot of their net points, it was mainly because the returns from the Bryan twins ended up being long. The winners were missing from the game of the Indian Express tonight... just 17 against the 26 by the American duo.

However, despite their loss tonight, I was very happy with the performance of Lee - Hesh over this fortnight. Their first Grand Slam together in 9 years... and they reached the finals! That is commendable stuff! As Hesh said at the end, it took the best team on the planet to pull the chain of the Indian Express train.

I was particularly happy when Hesh thanked his partner Lee and said that he looked forward to playing with Lee ahead in the season. This was their first public admission (sort of) that they will play together ahead for the rest of the season. Till now, all they had said officially was that they will play the Australian Open, and then think ahead. It would be a great pleasure to see them return together in May to the place where they have won 2 Grand Slam titles together (more than the Bryan twins, who have only 1 there)! Looking ahead to the Roland Garros...

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