TENNIS US OPEN – 7th of September 2014. B. Bryan/M. Bryan d. M. Granollers/M. Lopez 6-3, 6-4. An interview with Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan
Q. What are your feelings hitting 100? Sum it up for us.
BOB BRYAN: Yeah, I mean, it’s amazing relief, you know, ecstacy. You know, I was having flashbacks to my whole career towards the end of that match. It was wild. I was thinking juniors, college. It was an incredible moment. I was trying to stay in the moment, but it was impossible. I mean, this number right here, we have really been looking at for a couple of years. Greg wrote that story three months ago when we hit 98. I told him, Just hold off. We’re not even to 99. He burned us for a few months. (Smiling.) But, you know, there are so many things that go along with this US Open title. We were really just trying to win the title. Then you got the 100, the ten years with the slam, first slam of the year. Yeah, our fifth Open, there is no words to describe it.
Q. Better than you imagined it?
BOB BRYAN: Yeah.
MIKE BRYAN: Yeah, it’s always sweet winning a Grand Slam. This just adds some extra whip cream and cherries and nuts on top. To win a slam for the 10th consecutive year, that was kind of in the back of our heads, too. I mean, it was just great. We went out there and played a good match. We do get nervous. I think it was something like our 27th Grand Slam final. It feels like it was our first. You know, we were jittery. Tough to eat, tough to sleep. You know, but we kind of rose above it. I thought it was kind of our best match of the tournament against a really tough team that posed a lot of challenges. I think it helped having two days off to practice for that specific team, because they play like no other team out there. They are so close to the net. They have great groundstrokes. We had some good strategies to counteract that. Yeah, as Bob said, it was kind of like ecstacy. Right when the match finished it was a relief. So much emotions. I don’t think we have ever done this kind of dirty dancing swan dive. That was a first. (Laughter.)
BOB BRYAN: You felt light as a feather. (Laughter.)
MIKE BRYAN: Yeah.
Q. Was that dirty dancing move a miscommunicated…
MIKE BRYAN: Yeah, it was a miscommunicated chest bump. I went for it; Bob didn’t lift off.
BOB BRYAN: It gets ugly sometimes.
MIKE BRYAN: I remember Charleston. We won a big Davis Cup match. We both went in for the hug in the air. That doesn’t work out. Dangerous. So dangerous if you hug in the air and you have to come down together. Yeah, you never know. I mean, that just was a great feeling winning that match point, just getting over the finish line there.
BOB BRYAN: Hell, yeah, it was.
Q. It’s been quite a journey. Take us into the flashbacks.
BOB BRYAN: Hitting our first balls at the club, playing our first tournament at age six. Saw that. Yeah, I mean, Kalamazoo when we were — it’s all relative. We were just as Jacked to win Kalamazoo as we are here to get 100. You know, same thing with the NCAAs. I slept with that NCAA trophy in my bed for a night. To win that first slam, I remember flying over the English Channel to Queen’s, and I was most scared I have ever been that the plane was gonna crash. It’s like, We have done it, and now I’m going to go down in a ball of flames for some reason. I just want to enjoy this for a little bit.
MIKE BRYAN: There was some nasty turbulence.
BOB BRYAN: Incredible turbulence. Obviously the Davis Cup was — it’s been a really storybook career, and this is kind of a cap, you know, right on top. Just neat little bow on this career.
Q. What was the first one when you were six?
BOB BRYAN: Lake Lindero.
MIKE BRYAN: 1985, novice tournament. Met in the finals of the singles and won the doubles. Took home four trophies. I think we might have slept with that trophy, too.
BOB BRYAN: Hell, yeah. We did.
Q. Where are your parents today?
MIKE BRYAN: They were at home watching it. They don’t like to watch it live. They watch the scores tick. Sometimes they get too nervous. Like during our Wimbledon final they went on a drive to Santa Barbara an hour away. Drove up; drove back. Got home, checked the scores, and we lost.
BOB BRYAN: Once we start going later in the tournaments we start losing touch with people. We’re not calling our parents anymore. I haven’t really talked to them. Usually we’re FaceTiming with the kids and, you know, your mind just starts focusing on that prize, you know, and you don’t want to talk about too much stuff. So now after all this is released we’ll call them and really enjoy a nice conversation. I’ll see my dad at Davis Cup. But, yeah, you’re in that crazy focus mode.
MIKE BRYAN: For two weeks.
BOB BRYAN: For two weeks. Finally just get to laugh again.
MIKE BRYAN: Be a person again.
Q. So two things? Obviously this is an amazing symmetry to winning here. Do you believe in karma? Secondly, you have won so much and many places through all these years. You said a moment ago that Kalamazoo felt the same. Do qualities of wins of these feel different or not really?
MIKE BRYAN: I think we do believe in a little bit of karma, but sometimes there is no fairytale ending. Last year we were going for the slam. That would have been really nice. We have also lost 11 Grand Slam finals, which every one stings; four or five days Davis Cup matches. This one has been cool. I mean, it’s been kind of good karma to win the gold medal. And as Bob said, like Kalamazoo and US Open juniors and NCAAs, it just seems like we have hit every milestone and step along the way. So I don’t know. It does feel like we have good karma. We pick up trash when we see litter on the street.
BOB BRYAN: Try to sign every autograph, you know, and take pictures, selfies. You’re hoping that’s gonna add up to something.
Q. Do you ever just hit yourself and say, Is this for real? How do you maintain being who you are with the success that you have had? Because I want to applaud you on that. (Applause.)
MIKE BRYAN: Thank you.
BOB BRYAN: Yeah, I mean.
Q. So how do you do that?
BOB BRYAN: It feels great to be recognized and to achieve something great in a sport you have dedicated your life to. We have sacrificed everything since two, three years old; didn’t feel like we were sacrificing because we were having so much fun at a young age. As you mature and look back you say, Gee, I didn’t go to my high school program. I had one sip of alcohol pretty much my whole life. That’s unusual, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I mean, we got everything. I got three incredible trophies over there sitting over your right shoulder: Michelle, Micaela, and Bobby Junior. That puts a smile on my face every day. I think that also made it easier to play well in this incredible, huge moment knowing I already had that in my back pocket.
Q. And you share all this with Wayne and Kathy, of course. How special is that to have them be in the game with you?
MIKE BRYAN: Yeah, I mean, they are the two most supportive parents kids could ask for. We got really positive parents, and they are always with us in our toughest moments. We have said a million times before, when we lose our match we go check our e-mail right away. Our e-mails are already in there with everything we have done in our career, and he takes losses just as hard as we do. It’s pretty amazing. They are the first people we call after wins, and they have been with us every step of the way. Countless hours. My mom fed us a million balls. Dad took us to tournaments. Couldn’t have done it without them. We had a happy tennis family. We’re still closer now than we have ever been.
Q. I was talking to guys work with Team Bryan, and they emphasize how much you give back working with their kids and programs, as well. Where do you guys get the energy, and what’s your philosophy about giving so much back, which you continue to do even though you have won everything?
BOB BRYAN: Our dad instilled that in us, doing so many clinics, inspirational speeches, and we were always traveling around with him as kind of the show ponies. We do drills. You know, the Jensens were one of our big idols and they gave back more than anyone and signed every autograph. And then Agassi set a great example for all the young Americans to set up their foundations and raise money for good causes. As we get older, we’re really trying harder to raise more money and do good in this game. You know, you mature and you start to see the good you can do and the impact you can make on the youth. We’ll start shifting our focus more to the foundation as our career winds down. Yeah, our dad, the Jensens, Agassi, they are all great role models for that.
EXCLUSIVE: How The ATP Plans To Make The Tour More Welcoming For LGBT Players
The governing body of men’s tennis has received praise for taking a proactive approach to the topic with the help of a leading LGBTQ+ organisation and a top research university.
During the first week of the US Open, there was an abundance of rainbow-theme flags and wristbands worn by both players and fans to mark the tournament’s first-ever Open Pride Day.
The event was part of the USTA’s Diversity and Inclusion strategic platform which aims to make tennis more inclusive. Unlike the women’s game, there are no openly LGBTQ+ players on the men’s Tour and there have been few historically, even though various players have spoken of their support for anybody on the Tour who decides to come out. Including Stefanos Tsitsipas and newly crowned US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, who were questioned about the topic following their second round matches. Meanwhile, Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime revealed that there is an ongoing survey related to LGBTQ+ issues being conducted by the ATP.
“Recently I’ve started doing a survey inside the ATP about the LGBTQ+ community,” he said. “It’s important these days to be aware of that and to be open-minded and the ATP needs to do that, in today’s time it’s needed.
“The reason we don’t have openly gay players on the ATP Tour, I’m not sure of the reason, but I feel me, as a player, it would be very open, very welcome. Statistically, there should be some, but for now there’s not.”
In response to Auger-Aliassime’s comment, UbiTennis looked into the work currently being done by the ATP alongside two other parties. Their decision to venture into LGBTQ+ representation on the Tour is part of their recent commitment to support the mental health and wellbeing of their players and staff. Last year, in May, they formed partnerships with Headspace and Sporting Chance.
The survey currently being conducted by the ATP started after the governing body of men’s tennis reached out to Lou Englefield, the director of Pride Sports, a UK organisation that focuses on LGBTQ+phobia in sport and aims to improve access to sport for all LGBTQ+ people. Through their connection, they contacted Eric Denison, a behavioural science researcher at Monash University’s School of Social Sciences. Denison was the lead author of the Out on the Fields study, the first international study on homophobia in sport and the largest conducted to date.
“I have been personally impressed with the initiative of the ATP and their desire to find ways to mitigate the broad impact of homophobic behaviour (in particular), not only on gay people, but on all players.” He told UbiTennis during an email exchange.
“We know of no other sporting governing body in the world that has been proactive on LGBTQ+ issues, and has taken a strong focus on engaging with both the LGBTQ+ community and scientists to find solutions.”
Denison says the norm has been for sports bodies to address this issue after they have been either pressured to do so or if the LGBTQ+ community got the ball rolling themselves. Incredibly, research conducted as part of the Out On The Fields initiative documented 30 separate studies which found sports organisations ignored discrimination experienced by LGBTQ+ people in sport.
Monash University has supplied the ATP with a series of scientifically validated questions, which they are using to ‘look under the hood’ at the factors which supports a culture where gay or bisexual players feel they are not welcome. The methodology is similar to a study Denison conducted in 2020 that focused specifically on the team sports rugby union and ice hockey.
“We suspect that tennis isn’t inherently more homophobic than other sports, or traditionally male settings. Instead, there is a disconnect between people’s attitudes towards gay people (e.g. the recent pro-gay comments by top players) and their behaviour, specifically their use of homophobic banter and jokes,” said Denison.
“This behaviour, which is largely habitual, creates a hostile climate for young gay/bi people who drop out or hide their sexuality. This means gay/bi players are invisible in youth tennis and leads to the downstream problem of no professionals. The banter/jokes continue because people think it is harmless.”
The hope is that players will also agree to be interviewed by the researchers for them to get a better understanding. All of the results will then be used by Pride Sports and Monash University to recommend evidence-based solutions. It is unclear as to how long the study will take or when the findings will be ready.
Former top 100 player Brian Vahaly is one of the few players to have been both openly gay and played at the highest level of the men’s game. However, he didn’t fully come to terms with his sexuality until after retiring from the sport at age 27. Speaking to UbiTennis earlier this year, Vahaly shed light on the potential barriers for gay players.
“There were a lot of homophobic jokes made on Tour. It’s a very masculine and competitive environment,” he said. “You don’t see a lot of gay representation, except for the women’s Tour. With me not having the personality of an outspoken advocate (for LGBTQ+ issues), certainly not in my twenties, I needed some time to understand myself. To me, in tennis I didn’t feel like there was anybody to talk to or anybody that was going through anything similar.”
The ATP has spoken with Vahaly about their initiative and he has become ‘quite involved.’ Through their discussions, he got acquainted with Denison for the first time. As a professional, Vahaly peaked at a ranking high of 64th in the world and won five Challenger titles. After retiring from the Tour, he has served on the USTA’s board of directors since 2013.
“I am happy to hear that the ATP is finally taking action to address this issue. I’m impressed they are taking a thoughtful, data-driven approach to make a meaningful difference here,” he told UbiTennis.
The ATP aims to make the men’s Tour more welcoming to potential LGTBQ+ athletes playing either now or in the future. For those who question if such an initiative is important in 2021, you only have to look at the younger demographic.
Sportsnet quoted CDC data from 2019 which showed that 26% of American LGBTQ+ teenagers aged 16 or 17 has contemplated suicide, five times more than those who identify as straight (5%). Among those teenagers who heard homophobic terms, 33% self-harmed and an additional 40% considered doing so.
More than 2000 players around the world currently have an ATP ranking.
2020 Tokyo Olympics, Djokovic on the heat and the new scheduling: “I’m glad they listened to us”
Speaking to Ubitennis, the world number one describes the work that he, Medvedev and Zverev (among others) have done to obtain better playing conditions
So far, the tennis tournament at the 2020 Olympics has made headlines less for the match-play than for the difficult conditions in which it has been taking place due to the heat and the humidity. In the women’s draw, for instance, four players have been forced to retire during their matches: the last one has been particularly shocking, as Paula Badosa was taken off-court on a wheelchair after collapsing late in the first set of her quarter-final match against Marketa Vondrousova. Luckily, these issues appear to have finally caught the attention of the International Tennis Federation: starting tomorrow, no match will be played before 3pm (7am in the UK).
Part of the credit for this (still belated) decision goes to the lobbying and the complaints of the players, as world N.1 Novak Djokovic explained while speaking to Ubitennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta in Tokyo: “I’m glad the decision was made to reschedule tomorrow’s opening matches at 3pm. Today we went to speak to the supervisor – when I say ‘we’ I mean myself, Medvedev, and Zverev, along with the team captains. I have spoken to Khachanov and Carreno Busta as well, so the majority of the players who will feature in the quarter finals was of the same opinion.
“Of course I would have wished for this decision to be made a few days ago, but it’s still a good thing,” he added. “Nobody wants to witness incidents like the one that occurred to Badosa.
“The conditions are really brutal. Some people might think that we are just complaining, but all resistance sports (and tennis should be included among them) are taking place later in the day because the combination between the heat and the humidity is really terrible.”
He then concluded: “I’ve been a professional tennis player for almost 20 years and I’ve never experienced such hard conditions for so many consecutive days. It may have have happened once or twice in Miami or New York, but just for one day, whereas in Tokyo the situation is like this every day. I think that this decision will benefit the fans as well, because playing later allows us to play our best – these conditions were just draining for us.”
Article by Lorenzo Colle; translated by Tommaso Villa
Mats Wilander Exclusive: Matteo Berrettini Will Win A Grand Slam
UbiTennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta speaks to the former world No.1 about Berrettini’s historic win at Wimbledon.
Swedish tennis great Mats Wilander has praised Matteo Berrettini for his run to the Wimbledon Final during a one-to-one interview with UbiTennis.
25-year-old Berrettini has become the first Italian man in history to reach the final of the Grand Slam after beating Hubert Hurkacz 6-3, 6-0, 6-7(3), 6-4. Throughout the clash he was impressive behind his serve where he fired 22 aces and won 86% of his service points. This year he is unbeaten on the grass and is currently on a 10-match winning streak following his triumph at Queen’s last month.
“Breaking the first game of the fourth set is to me the sign that we all look for in players. Whatever happens in the third (set) should not matter and he came straight back,”Wilander tells UbiTennis.
“That’s my indication that he will be one of the best players in the world. He will win a Grand Slam one hundred percent, for sure, if he stays healthy.”
Wilander’s bold prediction centres around Berrettini’s game on both grass and hardcourt. However, he is less optimistic about his chances on the clay at present until his backhand becomes more powerful.
As to why the former world No.1 has so much confidence in Italy’s top player, he says it is his ability to not expose his weaknesses during matches. Drawing parallels between him and Roger Federer. The player Berrettini comprehensively beat in straight sets earlier in the week.
“He knows how to hide his weakness and most great players know how to hide their weaknesses. Roger Federer is the perfect example. His backhand compared to the serve and the forehand. He stays alive with the slice and he comes over (to the net) sometimes when he has to,” he said.
“I think Matteo has figured out that he can stay alive with the slice. But the difference is that he is willing to slice and come in. He’s also double the size of Federer at the net so it is difficult to pass him.”
It wasn’t until the age of eight when Berrettini started to focus more on tennis after being asked by his younger brother to play more. As a professional he has won five ATP titles since 2018 and is the highest ranked ATP player from his country since Corrado Barazzutti back in 1978. He is coached by Vincenzo Santopadre, Marco Gulisano and Umberto Rianna.
“I would be so encouraged if I was coaching him. For the coach it must be like oh my god we are looking at a player who has (good use of his) hands and hides his weakness though the rest of his game,” the seven-time Grand Slam champion commented.
“I don’t why it has taken him a bit longer (to break through). I know he started a little bit later but I think he’s a natural at the big moments.”
On Sunday Berrettini faces the ultimate test against Novak Djokovic who will be seeking his third consecutive Wimbledon title and sixth overall. He has lost to the Serbian twice before on the Tour, including the French Open earlier this year. The Italian enters the final as the underdog but Wilander thinks he shouldn’t be underestimated.
“I think he has a good chance, I really do because that serve (of his) is different and he has a different forehand. He is not afraid to stay alive,” he concluded.
UbiTennis’ full interview with Wilander can be listened to below
Hsieh Su-Wei and Elise Mertens win their second title as a team in Indian Wells
John Peers and Filip Polasek claim their first team doubles title in Indian Wells
Filip Krajinovic To Skip Australian Open If Required To Quarantine For More Than Five Days
Indian Wells Daily Preview: Championship Sunday
Cameron Norrie Eyes Grand Slam Breakthrough Following Indian Wells Run
REPORT: Unvaccinated Players Set To Be Banned From Playing Australian Open
ATP Moves Closer To Staging Five More 12-Day Masters 1000 Events After Board Approval
WTA Luxembourg Open Axed Over Disagreements Between Tour And Organisers
Injured Roger Federer Says The ‘Worst Is Behind Him’ As He Targets Comeback In 2022
EXPLAINED: Why Novak Djokovic’s Latest Trip To Bosnia Has Caused Controversy
US Open, Steve Flink: “Djokovic’s loss had more to do with fatigue than pressure”
US Open, Steve Flink on the Murray-Tsitsipas Controversy
(VIDEO) Dominic Thiem, Juan Martin Del Potro Gathering Momentum In Comeback Bids
Steve Flink On Wimbledon: “Bautista Agut would be a tough semifinal test for Djokovic”
Wimbledon, Flink: “Djokovic Will Beat Zverev in the Final”
Focus2 days ago
Alexander Zverev Seeks Rest And Improvement After Indian Wells Exit
Latest news2 days ago
Carlos Moya, Flavia Pennetta and Ana Ivanovic are among the candidates for the 2022 International Tennis Hall of Fame
Hot Topics3 days ago
Ons Jabeur Used To Be Rejected By Sponsors For Being Tunisian, Now She Is A Tennis Trailblazer
Focus2 days ago
Grigor Dimitrov Praises ‘Surreal’ Achievement Ahead Of Indian Wells Semis
Latest news3 days ago
Grigor Dimitrov beats Hubert Hurkacz to move into the semifinals in Indian Wells
Focus2 days ago
Indian Wells Daily Preview: The Women’s Semifinals
Latest news2 days ago
Paula Badosa reaches her first WTA 1000 semifinal at Indian Wells
ATP9 hours ago
Filip Krajinovic To Skip Australian Open If Required To Quarantine For More Than Five Days