Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Mike Bryan plays, loses without his twin brother

   It was supposed to be the Battle of the Brothers.
   Bob and Mike Bryan, two-time French Open champions and ex-Stanford stars (1997-98), would have played Ken and Neal Skupski of Great Britain today in the first round in Paris.
   But Bob Bryan was forced to withdraw because of a hip injury after landing awkwardly on his right foot while serving in the first set of the Madrid final this month. Then, for the first time in 1,408 career matches, one of the twins retired.
   Consequently, Mike Bryan played with another partner for the first time in 76 career Grand Slam tournaments. Seeded 16th, Bryan and his longtime friend Sam Querrey, both from the Los Angeles area, lost to the Skupskis 7-5, 6-4 at Roland Garros.
   "It just feels like you're missing half of yourself," Mike Bryan lamented to reporters.
   Bob gave Mike permission to play without him.
   "He felt a little guilty that I was kind of waiting for him, so he said, 'Go out there and play with Sam or whoever you get, and then I'll meet you in Europe.' " Mike said.
   Bob hopes to return for the grass-court season after the French Open. If he can't return at all, Mike might not keep playing, The New York Times reported.
   Mike Bryan has had his own troubles. He got divorced last year, undoubtedly contributing to the brothers' prolonged slump. The last of their record 16 Grand Slam men's doubles titles came in the 2014 U.S. Open.
   But Mike has a new girlfriend, 30-year-old model Nadia Murgasova of Slovakia, and the twins, who turned 40 last month, were rebounding when Bob got hurt. They reached the final of the year's first four Masters 1000 events, winning in Miami and Monte Carlo. 
   Querrey, a 30-year-old San Francisco native, is scheduled to get married in 11 days. He would have postponed the wedding if he and Mike Bryan had made the doubles final.
   "Outside of him, I probably would have said no to everyone," Querrey said.
   Ironically, Neal Skupski and the Bryans were teammates on the Sacramento-based California Dream of World TeamTennis in 2015, the franchise's only year of existence. Skupski played full-time and the Bryans part-time.
   The Bryans' father, Wayne, coached the Sacramento Capitals of WTT from 2002 through their final year in 2013, winning the Coach of the Year award from 2004 through 2006.
   Neal Skupski, 28, is seven years younger than Ken. Both starred at LSU, with Ken reaching the 2005 NCAA doubles final with Mark Growcott. They lost to Stanford's KC Corkery and Sam Warburg, a Sacramento native and member of the Capitals' 2007 WTT championship team. 

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