The season once held so much promise. There were gold medal dreams,
Grand Slam possibilities and aspirations of continued dominance.
But after a disappointing summer stretch, Mike and Bob Bryan's
opportunity for a season-defining moment has narrowed to one.
It's Davis Cup or bust for the Camarillo, Calif., tennis
professional doubles team.
"We need to wipe the slate clean and end the summer on a high note
because it hasn't been all that high," said Bob. "We said at the
start, winning the Olympics, U.S. Open or Davis Cup would make a
pretty good summer. Well, this is the last of the three goals."
The United States plays Belarus in the World Group semifinals
Friday through Sunday at the Family Circle Tennis Center in
The Bryans join Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish against the Belarus
squad of Max Mirnyi, Vladimir Voltchkov, Andrei Karatchenia and
The Americans are trying to reach their first Davis Cup final since
1997. Their last title was in 1995.
The Bryans, who will play for the doubles point on Saturday, are
3-0 in Davis Cup and have yet to drop a set. They defeated Mirnyi and
Voltchkov, 6-3, 6-3 in the second round of the Olympics last month.
But aside from that victory, the Olympics is a topic the Bryans
would rather avoid discussing. The pain is still too raw.
After losing in the quarterfinals, the 26-year-old identical twins
drove directly to the hotel, packed their bags and boarded the next
flight out of Athens.
"It was probably the most disappointing moment of our careers. We
didn't say a word to each other on the flight," Mike said. "We
couldn't believe it happened. We wanted that gold so bad. We just
wanted any medal so bad."
Compounding the Bryans' woes was a third-round exit at the U.S.
Open, and the loss of their top ranking. After more than a year at the
No. 1 spot, the Bryans have slipped to No. 2 behind Mark Knowles and
But there may be a partial explanation for the frustrating few
months. Mike has been playing with labral tears in each hip. The
painful injury causes him stiffness after prolonged periods of match
The Davis Cup format will be beneficial for Mike, allowing him to
go all out for one match and not have to worry about a quick
"I am definitely good for one match at 100 percent," said Mike.
"Right now I am feeling really good."
Leading the United States to the final for the first time since
1997 would help ease some of the Bryans' summer pain.
"The whole summer has kind of been a shocker, but we have stayed
fairly positive through it all," Mike said. "We want to get back on
top. We are kind of under the radar now, and everyone isn't gunning
for us anymore. We are going to gun for them."
The Bryans remain hopeful of regaining the top spot with a strong
European indoor run and a title defense at the season-ending Tennis
"It is still conceivable to finish the year No. 1," Mike said.
"Don't count us out."
Mike and Bob Bryan's opportunity for a season-defining moment has narrowed to one: Davis Cup.