Bob and Mike Bryan scored one of their bigger wins in the past 12 months, with a five set win over the weekend in the USA's Davis Cup tie against Australia. Meanwhile, Anabel Medina Garrigues and Aranxta Parra Santonja remained the hottest team on the WTA tour not named "Santina".
Bryans Get Confidence Boost Down Under
Bob and Mike Bryan went to Kooyong this weekend with little momentum after a disastrous start to their ATP World Tour season. The Bryans head back stateside with a win that could help the American twins build some momentum back on the ATP World Tour. With the U.S. knotted at 1-1 with Australia after the opening day of their Davis Cup World Group first round tie, the doubles rubber became a crucial match to deciding the victor. The Bryans would take on substitute Lleyton Hewitt and Davis Cup first-timer John Peers. The American pair would start strong as they turned in some of their best form in the last 12 months through the opening two sets. The Bryans used solid net play and some great returning from Bob specifically to craft a two sets to love lead after taking the first two sets by identical scores of 6-3.
Things would get interesting as Hewitt began to display some of his trademark determination, along with tremendous volleying, defense and a timely lob or two. With the help of Peers, the Aussie duo would soon find themselves all square with the Americans after taking the next two sets 6-4, 6-4. Perhaps the shaky confidence of the Bryans that has been on display too much already this season was coming back as the rubber moved to a fifth set.
This time when it was all on the line, the Bryans looked more like the prime time Bryans, winners of 16 Grand Slam titles. The Americans would break early in the third to spark a 3-0 lead that they would not relinquish. No hiccups, just a much-needed big match win to give the USA a 2-1 lead heading into the reverse singles rubbers on Sunday. John Isner would take care of the last win, as the U.S. heads to the Davis Cup quarterfinals.
For the Bryans, this win could be monumental. After suffering through a mediocre season in 2015 by their standards, they were hoping some training and tactical changes would help them rediscover the success they had become accustomed to over the last decade. That had not happened with the Bryans losing their first matches in two of the four tournaments they have played. There was another third round exit at the Australian Open. The most painful moment may have come recently in Delray Beach, where the brothers made their first final since last summer's Rogers Cup.
In the Delray Beach final against Oliver Marach and Fabrice Martin, the American twins had six match points, but failed to close out their opponents. They would lose in a match tiebreak 13-11. Following that match, Mike Bryan acknowledged that the loss was a hurtful one. Still, Mike was already looking forward and perhaps into a crystal ball, saying, “Davis Cup will be big. Then we’ll head down to Indian Wells and Miami, and hopefully kick off the year with a win over there.”
Mike Bryan was right. Davis Cup was big. For a team with 109 career ATP World Tour doubles titles and 16 Grand Slams, the win over Australia may be the catalyst they needed to be back to the form and success that people think of when they hear the Bryans' names. Indian Wells could signal the true turnaround for the Bryans. It's a tournament they have won two times in the last three years. Buoyed by this weekend's big win, they will be hoping that Indian Wells can be the site of their first title in 2016.
Spanish Duo Continue WTA Dominance
While Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis have received the majority of the spotlight in women's doubles and rightfully so, there is another team that is quietly winning titles and showing the best consistency behind "Santina". Anabel Medina Garrigues and Aranxta Parra Santonja won the titles at the Abierto Monterrey Afirme this weekend, their second straight week with a title. After winning in Acapulco last week, the Spanish pair rallied from a set down in the final in Monterrey to beat Petra Martic and Maria Sanchez 4-6, 7-5, 10-7. In six tournaments this season, Medina Garrigues and Parra Santonja have made the semifinals or better five times. That has them boosted into the fourth spot in the latest WTA doubles rankings
Defending Champions Stung in Kuala Lumpur Final
The final of the BMW Malaysian Open saw the top seeds and defending champions upset in a super tiebreak. Chen Liang and Yafan Wang had found a way to escape in two previous super tiebreak finishes en route to the final. The final found them pitted against the unseeded pairing of Varatchaya Wongteancha and Zhaoxuan Yang. Liang and Wang started well by taking the opening set 6-4, but it was Wongteancha and Yang who would pull off the comeback by taking the next set 6-4 and then finishing off their title run 10-7 in the super tiebreak. For both winners, it was their first WTA doubles title.