Monday, September 2, 2013

Bryans' ploy works; Grand Slam bid continues

Bob, left, and Mike Bryan of the Texas Wild in World Team-
Tennis watch the women's singles set against the host Sac-
ramento Capitals last month. Photo by Paul Bauman
   With their hopes of a doubles Grand Slam almost dashed, Bob and Mike Bryan took a big gamble Sunday.
   The top seeds and former Stanford stars switched sides for their service returns in the second set of their third-round match at the U.S. Open. The move paid off with a 6-7 (1), 7-5, 6-2 victory over Canadians Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   "It's a pretty big deal, because you never practice the other way," Mike Bryan told reporters. "But when you're desperate, you kind of have nothing to lose, just because we didn't have much hope the other way."
   Normally, the left-handed Bob Bryan plays the deuce side and the right-handed Mike the ad side so that both hit forehands down the middle. But the 35-year-old identical twins switched after trailing by a break at 4-3 in the second set.
   The Bryans proceeded to break Nestor, an eight-time Grand Slam champion in men's doubles, four straight times.
   Nestor, who will turn 41 on Wednesday, was asked if the switch affected him.
   "Maybe, a little bit," he said. "Probably could've mixed it up a little more. I got too repetitive with my first serves, and they weren't going in."
   The Bryans, who have won 27 consecutive matches in majors, are trying to become the second team in history to earn a calendar-year Grand Slam in men's doubles. They need three more victories to join Australians Ken McGregor and Frank Sedgman, who accomplished the feat 62 years ago.
   "To be honest, it's really on our minds," Bob Bryan said.
   The Bryans are scheduled to face 12th-seeded Colin Fleming and Jonathan Marray of Great Britain in the quarterfinals in tonight's late match.
   Last year, Marray and Frederik Nielsen of Denmark became the first wild cards to win the Wimbledon men's singles title. The Bryans dispatched Eric Butorac, who played for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis in 2008, and Nielsen last week in the second round of the U.S. Open.
   All four Northern California juniors in action Sunday won in the first round of singles. Mackenzie McDonald, 18, of Piedmont and Collin Altamirano, a 17-year-old Yuba City resident who trains in Sacramento, advanced in the boys draw. Fourteen-year-olds Catherine (CiCi) Bellis of Atherton and Michaela Gordon of Los Altos Hills moved on in the girls field.
   Altamirano lost to 22nd-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 in the first round of men's singles last week.
   Also advancing in girls singles was 11th-seeded Mayo Hibi, won the $50,000 FSP Gold River Women's Challenger in the Sacramento area last month. Hibi, 17, lives in Irvine in Southern California but plays for her native Japan.

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