By Matt Cronin, special to USTA.com
MELBOURNE - Bob and Mike Bryan have the same plans on court, which is continue to sit atop the men's doubles rankings and win more majors. However, life has changed for the Camarillo twins over the few months, as the lefty Bob is now a husband and the righty Mike has bought out their shared Southern California home and his British girlfriend Lucille has moved in with him.
It sounds like the high-flying twins are settling down.
"Within 12 months, I see Mike going down and the next big paycheck goes to the ring," said Bob, who was married last December to lawyer Michelle Alvarez, who used to take tennis lessons from his mother Kathy.
Bob and his wife recently bought a place in Miami that needs to be furnished, so don't expect the Bryans to settle down anytime soon, not when they are still two Grand Slam titles behind all time team leaders Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge.
This week the Bryans will go for their fifth Aussie Open title and are the defending champions. There are few locales they have played better in than Melbourne.
"It couldn't go better so far and we are playing better each day," said Bob after he and Mike launched themselves into the quarterfinals with a 7-5, 6-2 win over the German duo of Benjamin Becker and Michael Kohlmann. "We love hard courts growing up in California and we come into Australian fresh. Reaching six of the of last seven finals is pretty good."
Even though they had promised to cut down on playing exhibitions in December, the twins played 10 of them last month, flying in small planes throughout the U.S. Their last exhibition was on December 17th, they spent 10 days at home and then few to Thailand to play an exhibition with Kim Clijsters and Caroline Wozniacki.
"We have a lot of friends and it's hard to say no," Mike said.
The Bryans have been on tour since 1998, when they came out Stanford as NCAA champions, but this year, the 32-year-olds are fully established legends.
In 2010, they finished No. 1 for a record sixth time in the past eight years, but the highlight of the year is when they broke the Woodies mark of most overall titles at 62 in Los Angeles. They then won another crown in Cincinnati, added another at the US Open (their ninth Grand Slam title and third US Open crown), won another in Beijing and another in Basel. There is a little doubt that if they play to age 35 or so that their title count should be well into the 70s, which will be a tough mark for any team to beat.
But their minds are on the majors.
"We are looking at the Slams this year," Mike said. "The Woodies have 11 and we are at nine and we would love to see that record fall before we are done."
The Bryans are not only proud of that mark, but also break into a smile when they discuss their success against 16 times singles champion Roger Federer in doubles. They are 4-3 against him.
"We got him last time at Indian Wells but he [and Stan Wawrinka] got us in the big one at the Olympics in Beijing, he has the all court game and is a genius out there," Bob said. "He showed at the Olympics when he lost in the singles that he could put down the singles game and jump right into doubles."
The congenial and energetic Bryans have long been considered one of the tour's most entertaining doubles pairs and after hearing the team of Spaniards Juan Monaco and Feliciano Lopez got into a major spat with Leander Paes and fellow Indian Mahesh Bhupathi at the Aussie Open, they said that the sport could use a little more in-your-face play.
Lopez and Monaco were upset that Paes and Bhupathi were provoking them with cries of "Vamos." The Indians denied they meant any harm, but a supervisor had to separate the two teams before they came to blows at the net.
"We need more of those, it's good for doubles," said Mike. "Players showing their personalities, getting a little heated."
Bob added, "It looked worse than it was. Leander is flashy, he likes to show his personality and has quick hands. He'll go at you. He's not afraid to intimidate. Those guys are legends and know what they are doing. Any team that has Grand Slam titles you have to watch out for them."
According to the Bryans, the "Indian Express say that they invented the chest bump," which the Bryans are famous for.
"They don't leave the ground, " joked Mike.
The Bryans are over the 30 now, but still do chest bump and claim they are still getting airtime.
"I got some mean air today," Bob said.
Mike responded, "Yeah, you had your face in my chest."
The Bryans have adjusted their winter schedule and are going on a South American swing, playing Costa de Sauipe, Brazil and Acapulco (where they will be getting healthy guarantees) before they head to Santiago March 4-6 for the U.S.'s Davis Cup tie against Chile. Grabbing another Cup title is another major goal for the twins.
"Jim Courier is the new captain and we are excited to play for him," Bob said. "He's going to take a bunch of guys to Chile. We don't know if we are going to be named to the team yet, but we are definitely going down. We might end up being practice partners, but we are going to be ready to go to war on clay."