Bob and Mike Bryan’s hopes of becoming the first men’s doubles team since 1951 to claim a calendar year Grand Slam were shattered on Thursday at the US Open by India’s Leander Paes and Czech Radek Stepanek.
The fourth seeds downed the top-seeded Americans 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the semi-finals, ending the US brothers’ hopes of sweeping the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open in the same year.
“Realistically it will probably never happen,” said Mike Bryan as he reflected on a chance for history gone begging.
“The margins are just so fine in doubles. There are just too many great teams out there and too much can go wrong, and a lot has to go right to be in that position. So we gave it everything we had,” he said.
The only men’s doubles duo to complete a calendar year Grand Slam remains the Australian pairing of Ken McGregor and Frank Sedgman in 1951.
News of the result filtered over to Melbourne, Australia, where Sedgman woke up yesterday morning and was greeted by a text from his daughter telling him his spot in tennis history was safe.
However, the 85-year-old former champion, whose doubles partner died in 2007, said there’s no denying the Bryans’ greatness.
“Obviously, they will go down as one of the best ever doubles pairings,” Sedgman said. “I really thought they had a good chance to break it.”
Paes and Stepanek will face second-seeded Austrian Alexander Peya and Brazil’s Bruno Soares in tomorrow’s final.
“I have great respect for the Bryan boys. They are great ambassadors for US tennis,” said Paes, the winner of seven men’s doubles titles at the majors.
“But I have a great partner in Radek. He had spinal surgery this year and has fought his way back after a tough year. So when we play together we feel anything is possible,” he said.
Stepanek, who was out for four months to recover from surgery, said he and Paes may develop a new celebration style in the final after showing off a well-synchronized “crab-dance” on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Thursday.
The Bryans, who were defending champions, had already become the first pair to hold all four majors at the same time when they captured a third Wimbledon title in July.
The 35-year-old identical twins also completed a “Golden Bryan Slam” by winning the London Olympics last year.
Bob Bryan admitted that they can still take consolation from their record of having all four majors at the same time.
“The media and everything shifted towards the calendar year Grand Slam. So it’s a never ending run of history and records, and there is always something on the horizon,” he said.
“What makes this sport so fun is there’s always the next goal. We’ll figure out what we’re going to focus on next, but we did give each other a hug and said, ‘Great run,’” Bob Bryan said.
Additional reporting by staff writer