NEW YORK – Sometimes, maybe, things happen for a reason.
Had Bob and Mike Bryan won the five-set thriller in the WImbledon final over countryman Jack Sock and his Canadian partner Vasek Pospisi, their 100th career title together might have come in ... Mason, Ohio, near the amusement park and not far from the local Applebee's.
A scenic part of the world, to be sure. But perhaps one not quite befitting such an incredible accomplishment.
A Wimbledon victory would have meant another Grand Slam title to add to the six Australian Opens, two French Opens, three Wimbledons and four U.S. Open titles they already have. But as things turned out, the 36-year-old twins now will have a chance to hit the century mark in their home country, in New York City, in the biggest tennis stadium in the world.
The tennis balls being used at this year's tournament have the number "100" emblazoned upon them to mark the 100th anniversary of Wilson, the manufacturer. So it's not as though they've been able to avoid the number for the last two weeks, even if they wanted to.
The Bryans broke John McEnroe's record of 270 weeks at No. 1 in doubles in Dec. 2011 and now are closing in on 400 weeks. As a comparison, countryman Pete Sampras spent 286 weeks at No. 1 in singles; Roger Federer sits at 302 weeks.
The Bryans also have shattered the previous record for tournament titles by a duo, which was 61 by Woodforde and Woodbridge. They've only been adding on to their record total since then.
There are four woman in the history of the WTA Tour who have won over 100 doubles titles: Martina Navratilova (177 – safe to say that one will stand), Pam Shriver, Billie Jean King and Rosie Casals. But those totals were achieved with different partners. Canadian Daniel Nestor (he turned 42 Thursday, and is six years older than the Bryans) has 85 doubles titles on his resumé but again, with a variety of different partners.
Mike Bryan actually has 101 titles; two of them were won with partners other than his twin. To compare with their contemporaries on the singles side, Federer has 80 career singles titles; Rafael Nadal and Sampras stand at 64. But while it's more difficult to win a singles titles, you're not dependent on the good health of your partner (and on whether your relationship is healthy for long periods of time).
A year ago, things were infinitely crazier in Bryanworld. The duo had won the first three Grand Slam tournaments of the season in Australia, at Roland Garros and Wimbledon and were vying for a calendar Grand Slam, which is a rare and unusual feat.
They didn't make it, losing in the semifinals to eventual champions Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek.
"Last year was obviously crazier and we had this long streak going. So it was just a lot of built-up pressure and kind of angst. We were very disappointed when we lost last year, but a little bit relieved that the whole run was finished and we could just play again without having that on our shoulders," Bob Bryan said after a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 semi-final victory over the unseeded American pair of Scott Lipsky and Rajeev Ram in the semifinal Thursday.
"This year feels like an added bonus. If we can do it, it would add something really extra special to do Grand Slam title. We're not feeling the pressure to do it in any way. Because it's going to happen eventually. It's not like, 'Oh, my God. We're going to be stuck on 99 forever.' We're both confident we'll knock down the title at some point. It would be cool to do it here," he added.
The brothers won 11 tournaments in 2013, including those three Grand Slams. By that measure, 2014 is probably considered an "off" year by their standards, which is crazy considering they remain firmly the No. 1 team on the ATP Tour.
They didn't win their first title of the season until the small event in Delray Beach in March, but later won Masters 1000 titles in Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Cincinnati.
They lost in the third round in Australia to American Eric Butorac and Raven Klaasen of South Africa, and lost to them again a few weeks later in the final of a small event in Memphis. In Paris, they were beaten 6-4, 6-2 by Marc Granollers and Marc Lopez of Spain in the quarter-finals.
That's the team they will face again in the U.S. Open doubles final Saturday – except this time, it won't be on the red clay the Spaniards consider a home court, but on a true-blue American hard court.
The WImbledon loss was, at the time, a tough one to swallow although they said there that considering they felt they hadn't played well the entire tournament, reaching the final was almost a victory. Did the defeat sting nonetheless? Obviously; the Bryans met Sock and Pospisil in Cincinnati a few weeks ago in a rematch – and crushed them 6-3, 6-2.
Granollers and Lopez have to hope the Bryans don't come into their rematch with that same attitude.