What made the Bryan Brothers so good?

Hi all,

Was just wondering what attributes made the Bryan Brothers so good throughout their career?

I feel like there is constant discussion about what makes a certain singles player so good or what they excel/lack in, but in regards to doubles, I don't see any of that discussion or nuance. I never really followed doubles, but I always try to watch when I get the chance and I would really like to see what people think allows doubles teams to succeed.

Thanks!
 

Backspin1183

G.O.A.T.
So what does that mean in regards to the question I asked?

That partly answers your question.

The other reason is that they have played together all their lives and understand each other's strengths and weaknesses very well. Both players are very efficient volleyers. I haven't seen many players who are as good as the Bryans at the net in doubles. They are also very solid from the baseline too. They also don't seem to have a lot of weaknesses either for the opponents to exploit.
 

Fedinkum

Legend
I think it was because the best players focused on their singles careers.
The uncomfortable truth.

When commentating single matches, Tood Woodbridge from the Woodies always argue with John Newcombe. He probably thought just because he was a double slam winner so he knew better than his older and more accomplished co-host. But deep down we all know that he played doubles because he didn’t cut it at singles.
 
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Max G.

Legend
They were just good, and focused on doubles.

Most players that focus on doubles nowadays do that because they're just not good enough at singles. The Bryans were; they could have been fine singles players, not top 10 but they would have made it. But they preferred doubles and have focused on it their entire careers, and of course playing together for their whole life helps with teamwork and communication too.
 

Red Rick

Talk Tennis Guru
The uncomfortable truth.

When commentating single matches, Tood Woodbridge from the Woodies always argue with John Newcombe. He probably thought just because he was a double slam winners so he knows better than his older co-host. But deep down we all know that he played doubles because he didn’t cut it at singles.
Let's not pretend all singles players could make great doubles players or dismiss it completely.

Few things more annoying than the every appearing instantaneous link to the 2008 Olympic doubles to **** on doubles players.
 
I like how pretty much nobody has even tried to answer the question other than a small snippet by @Backspin1183 .

The question isn't, "Are the Bryan Brothers good compared to singles players?".
The question IS, "What attributes make the Bryan Brothers better than other doubles teams?"

No **** both of the Bryan Brothers are going to get their ass rocked in singles when against top singles players. And of course many of the top singles players have the talent and skill set to be great doubles players. You guys are literally doing exactly what I stated in the original post; talking about doubles without any nuance or any real discussion.
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
Short answer: chemistry.

Long(ish) answer: In doubles standard groundstrokes take a back seat to net play, hand-eye coordination, sense of court geometry, and most of all teamwork, which is why many a top singles player despite trying never had as much success in doubles. Plus Bob's big lefty serve is a handful for just about anybody. The Bryan Bros are without question one of the ATG pairs and would no doubt score their share of wins against duos composed of the best singles players and vice versa.
 

Subway Tennis

Hall of Fame
Hi all,

Was just wondering what attributes made the Bryan Brothers so good throughout their career?

I feel like there is constant discussion about what makes a certain singles player so good or what they excel/lack in, but in regards to doubles, I don't see any of that discussion or nuance. I never really followed doubles, but I always try to watch when I get the chance and I would really like to see what people think allows doubles teams to succeed.

Thanks!
I think with the Bryan Brothers, it's a combination of many things that made them a great team.

An obvious strength the Bryan brothers (and other good doubles teams) had was that one was left handed, and the other right handed. They really didn't have a disadvantage when returning on the ad side or the deuce side. They had a very good doubles forehand returning wide serves on either side.

Additionally, I don't think you can overlook the fact that they weren't just brothers, but identical twins. There has to be something in the synergy of two people who are almost exactly alike in physical capacity who can play tennis at an elite level who also know each other inside out. It's almost an unfair advantage in doubles lol.

They were also really smart guys in general. Bob and Mike are definitely no dummies. They did a lot of strategic training that was revolutionary for the time, particularly in areas like brain mapping and working on reflex decision making.

Another big thing is that once they were really successful, they had significantly more financial resources to draw on. That is a big, big advantage in tennis, particularly when it comes to stuff like recovery / fitness etc etc. The wealth gap, particularly in doubles, probably worked in their favour quite a bit.
 

NoleFam

Talk Tennis Guru
The Bryan Brothers are truly the GOATS of doubles. They have won everything. Any big tournament, even back to Hamburg and Madrid Masters, and Olympic gold they have won. The reason they are so good is because they are twins, and can tell what the other is always thinking plus one is left handed and one is right handed, making it the perfect combo.
 

BeatlesFan

Bionic Poster
Was just wondering what attributes made the Bryan Brothers so good throughout their career?
McEnroe-Fleming in their 40's would have trounced the Bryan Bros while wearing eye patches. The Bryans were successive because the top guys don't play doubles anymore. Bob Bryan has a lifetime record of 21-40 in singles and 0 titles. Mike has an even more woeful singles record.
 

smalahove

Hall of Fame
McEnroe-Fleming in their 40's would have trounced the Bryan Bros while wearing eye patches. The Bryans were successive because the top guys don't play doubles anymore. Bob Bryan has a lifetime record of 21-40 in singles and 0 titles. Mike has an even more woeful singles record.
if you watch this clip, you’ll see how ludicrous that statement is. The net players are standing with straight knees, watching the server or returner, without acknowledging the other net player’s position or movement.

 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
Which one?
I recall watching the first several games of a Bryan Bros doubles match on TV. Based on the shadows, I could tell that the sun angle on one side was vicious for a lefty to serve. I figured that having a lefty-righty combo gives them an advantage by never having to serve into the sun, no matter whether the match is morning or afternoon.

The match starts, and the Bryan Bros are about to serve on the side that is terrible for a lefty. I figured Mike would serve first. But no! They had lefty Bob serve first looking directly into the sun!

I guess they valued the advantage of having the lefty potentially serve an extra time in the set more than saving Bob’s eyes from early cataract surgery.
 

Devilito

Hall of Fame
Bryans came up at a time when prize money started to explode in tennis and for the first time ever you could make a living playing doubles exclusively. In the past, doubles was just icing on the cake for a lot of singles players to boost their income. Dedicating their entire time to doubles play and strategy went a long way to bridging the gap between them and a pair of better singles players.
 

Ronaldo

Bionic Poster
I recall watching the first several games of a Bryan Bros doubles match on TV. Based on the shadows, I could tell that the sun angle on one side was vicious for a lefty to serve. I figured that having a lefty-righty combo gives them an advantage by never having to serve into the sun, no matter whether the match is morning or afternoon.

The match starts, and the Bryan Bros are about to serve on the side that is terrible for a lefty. I figured Mike would serve first. But no! They had lefty Bob serve first looking directly into the sun!

I guess they valued the advantage of having the lefty potentially serve an extra time in the set more than saving Bob’s eyes from early cataract surgery.
Never understood why players look into the sun when it is easy just to close your eyes and serve.
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
Basically, the quality of doubles went through the floor during the early part of their career.

It had been on the decline for a long time, but even in the 90s a lot of very proficient singles players took doubles seriously. With the decline of serve and volley on the singles circuit in the early 2000s, the good players deserted the doubles circuit in droves.
When commentating single matches, Tood Woodbridge from the Woodies always argue with John Newcombe. He probably thought just because he was a double slam winner so he knew better than his older and more accomplished co-host. But deep down we all know that he played doubles because he didn’t cut it at singles.
That’s a bit rough on Woodbridge, who was top 20 and made the semis at Wimbledon and a Masters final in Canada.

The top doubles players of the 90s may not have been the caliber of Newcombe/Roche and the Supermacs, but they were miles above guys like the Bryans.

The Bryan Brothers are truly the GOATS of doubles.
They really aren’t. They are the NextGen of doubles - had to wait for their elders to fall over crippled or retire before they got a chance to win anything.
 

Fedinkum

Legend
Basically, the quality of doubles went through the floor during the early part of their career.

It had been on the decline for a long time, but even in the 90s a lot of very proficient singles players took doubles seriously. With the decline of serve and volley on the singles circuit in the early 2000s, the good players deserted the doubles circuit in droves.

That’s a bit rough on Woodbridge, who was top 20 and made the semis at Wimbledon and a Masters final in Canada.

The top doubles players of the 90s may not have been the caliber of Newcombe/Roche and the Supermacs, but they were miles above guys like the Bryans.


They really aren’t. They are the NextGen of doubles - had to wait for their elders to fall over crippled or retire before they got a chance to win anything.
Fair enough. I just find Woodbridge generally annoying And take a stab at him whenever I can. :sneaky:

Woodford is totally alright.
 

Fridge

Professional
I would guess simply their ability to play together and understand each other really well. How often do you see them mess up on positioning? Even some of the best teams have communication problems but that is rare with the bryans. They probably trust each other more than any other team on the ATP.
 

Bobby Jr

G.O.A.T.
The actual uncomfortable truth. Neither Bryan had it to make it as a singles player - Mike especially. Bob could have hovered around 60-100 for a while but not much more imo.
The Bryans were; they could have been fine singles players, not top 10 but they would have made it.
 

Bobby Jr

G.O.A.T.
This. The Bryans had one major advantage over most - they played together forever basically and developed a rarely seen chemistry in pairings, the sort that takes a good pairing and makes them consistently great. Most other pairings changed every few years with only a few exceptions. The pairings which jumped to prominence otherwise were typically solid doubles players who paired up with a singles player. They usually quickly overtook most doubles combos, highlighting some shortcomings in the games of doubles-only pairings.
Short answer: chemistry.
 
Let's not pretend all singles players could make great doubles players or dismiss it completely.

Few things more annoying than the every appearing instantaneous link to the 2008 Olympic doubles to **** on doubles players.
I am going to post a different set of H/Ls here.


Croatia had Dodig and Pavic, USA had Harrison and Mike Bryan. Dodig is a better singles player than Harrison and while Mike is Mike, he is much older than Pavic who was no.1 in doubles around this time (while Mike had returned to Davis Cup after a hiatus). So Croatia were going to romp all over USA, right? Wrong! USA beat Croatia in a nail-biter.

This is why using that one match to shat all over the Bryans' achievements in doubles is a bad idea. Compare them to other legendary doubles pairs and you have a better argument.
 

Subway Tennis

Hall of Fame
I am going to post a different set of H/Ls here.


Croatia had Dodig and Pavic, USA had Harrison and Mike Bryan. Dodig is a better singles player than Harrison and while Mike is Mike, he is much older than Pavic who was no.1 in doubles around this time (while Mike had returned to Davis Cup after a hiatus). So Croatia were going to romp all over USA, right? Wrong! USA beat Croatia in a nail-biter.

This is why using that one match to shat all over the Bryans' achievements in doubles is a bad idea. Compare them to other legendary doubles pairs and you have a better argument.
Very interesting match. Thanks for posting.
 

toby55555

Hall of Fame
Tactical awareness and great hands at the net through intense training and natural ability. Same thing that makes Jamie Murray such a potent force in doubles, it’s not like he has much else to his game compared to other players. His serve wouldn’t cut it at Futures level singles. Jack Sock is a bit different in that he can stay back on his serve and unleash that forehand which is probably the hardest to volley against in the game; he is also a great volleyer.
 

tennisbike

Professional
I like the Bryan brothers and I think they had been good for so long, there is not much new can be added to the conversation. Yes, I wonder and want to know the secret that will enable me to play like they do, like the next guy. Once when the Bryan brother signature stick was available I wanted to get one.

But like gods, who are so far above us, so .. impossible to reach or touch, plus some other reasons I do not love the Bryan brothers. They are too perfect, not flawed, like regular people like us. So I simply admire them from a distance.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
One thing about the Bryan Bros that is fairly unique is their choice of equipment. A little over 13 oz., swingweight in the 360s, very headlight balance. Extended 27.25” length, stiff flex, dense 18x20 pattern on 95” headsize. I have recently switched to playing with racquets set up similarly to this, and I have to say it very nice for a balance of crisp accurate volleying, potent heavy spin serves, and dipping passes.
 

Shaolin

G.O.A.T.
The question is how they could NOT be good.

They practiced with each other since 1 year old and had a good tennis coach for a dad. They could have been anyone and turn out great at dubs.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
The question is how they could NOT be good.

They practiced with each other since 1 year old and had a good tennis coach for a dad. They could have been anyone and turn out great at dubs.
It might have limited their ceiling had they been born with more limited physical traits.
 

tennisbike

Professional
One thing about the Bryan Bros that is fairly unique is their choice of equipment. A little over 13 oz., swingweight in the 360s, very headlight balance. Extended 27.25” length, stiff flex, dense 18x20 pattern on 95” headsize. I have recently switched to playing with racquets set up similarly to this, and I have to say it very nice for a balance of crisp accurate volleying, potent heavy spin serves, and dipping passes.
Plus low tensioned. Mid to low 40, gut/poly as I remember.
 

1stVolley

Professional
The Bryans were successive because the top guys don't play doubles anymore. Bob Bryan has a lifetime record of 21-40 in singles and 0 titles. Mike has an even more woeful singles record.
I don't understand the simplistic assumption that, to be a top doubles player you must be a top singles player. Doubles is a different game and requires a different skill set than singles. Heavy topspin drives which are the go-to shot with most singles players are less effective in doubles and, often enough, are the wrong shot to use. A shallow, dipping topspin drive might be a good tactic against a doubles player attempting to rush the net but it is not the right shot for a player at the net because it is is easier to effectively volley than a flat drive. While the top singles players like Djokovic and Nadal are solid volleyers, they are less comfortable taking the net than is required for doubles. In spite of the statistic that a singles player at the net wins about 2/3rds of the points there, top singles players prefer to stay at the baseline when they could safely take the net.

The #1 singles player, Djokovic, has one demonstrable weakness: his overhead. No top doubles play could afford such a weakness. A top doubles player MUST have a great half-volley. This shot is much less important for a singles play, particularly if he can just take the ball on the rise. But mostly, a great doubles player must develop an instinctive ability to adjust his court position in relation to where his partner is and where the likely incoming ball will be. Court positioning is simpler in singles because you don't have that partner coordination issue even though you don't have to cover as much territory as in singles.

Certainly being a top singles player in no way disqualifies someone from achieving similar success in doubles. The financial and status rewards are greater in singles so that's where the players go who can cut it in that version of the sport.
 
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