Bryan brothers add to legacy

PARIS -- Twenty is the new 17, Maria Sharapova said of women's singles earlier this fortnight at Roland Garros.

In men's doubles, the calculus is even bolder: Thirty-five is the new 25.

That's because Bob and Mike Bryan, those hyperactive twins from California, continue to reinvent themselves, even as they slide toward the pension age.

Saturday, they played in their 24th men's major doubles final -- nine more than any other team of the Open era. And now they have won more Grand Slam doubles titles than any other team in any era, by two with their 14th championship.

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Make that Grand Slam title No. 14 for the Bryan brothers, including their second this year.

The Bryans handled the makeshift French team of Michael Llodra and Nicolas Mahut, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (4).

""We never thought we'd get to the teens, Mike Bryan said. "I mean, we were just trying to get over one and then kept it's been a good 10 years. I mean, I think 24 Grand Slam finals in 10 years is great.

"You know, we lost a bunch of them early and we have won a bunch late. You never fathom that you're going to hit that many slams and add a gold to it. It's just been kind of a fairytale."

Llodra and Mahut were playing in only their second major together; it didn't go well in Australia, where they were forced to retire from a first-round match when Mahut's knee was deemed unplayable.

From the outset Saturday, it was clear experience would be a factor. In the very first game, the Frenchmen had to hit five consecutive overheads to win a point. They held, but were broken in the fifth game and the Bryans were in command.

The French pair broke them in the second set's second game to take a 2-0 lead, but were broken back the next game. But then, with the Bryans serving at 4-5, they were broken when a nasty midcourt backhand from Llodra passed between them untouched.

The third set was intense. The French fans who were left -- about 40 percent of capacity -- actually made far more noise than the full house that attended the women's final.

The Bryans locked it down with a mini-break at 4-all, then served it out. The brothers eschewed their usual flying chest bump, choosing instead to hug warmly.

"It was challenging, and in a few ways both guys were serving big; not letting us get a lot of rhythm," Bob Bryan said. "You know, obviously they had an animated crowd carrying them the whole way, so they he never gave up."

The Frenchmen out-aced them, 15-3.

The Bryans came into the match already owning the record for Grand Slam doubles titles (13) and overall titles (88). In winning the Australian Open title earlier this year, they broke a tie with John Newcombe and Tony Roche for the all-time, all-era record. The Open era record once belonged to Australians Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde, who won 11.

It was a good day for Americans, as the Bryans' victory followed Serena Williams' victory over Sharapova in the women's final.

Oddly, the Bryans' only previous win at Roland Garros was a decade ago; they were 1-3 in finals here.

"Just we really wanted to win another French," Mike Bryan said. "It's been 10 years. This is the first one we won back in the day and kind of launched our career. This is the toughest slam to win, I think. Clay is an equalizer and makes a lot of teams better."

The win means that, at the age of 35, they retain the possibility of a career-first calendar-year Grand Slam.

"I know, I know," said Bob, after practicing hours before the match. "That would be pretty cool."

They have won Wimbledon twice and the US Open four times, so it's clearly possible.

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