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Bryan brothers have blip as they begin defence

Bob and Mike Bryan celebrate with a chest bump.
by William Denny
Friday 27 June 2014

Twelve months ago, Bob and Mike Bryan were moving towards a remarkable non-calendar-year Golden Grand Slam, having won the US, Australian and French Open titles, not to mention an Olympic gold. Back to the present and the 15-time Grand Slam champions are stuttering through an awkward season if judged by their astronomical standards.

Despite five tour wins (taking their tally to 98) they were eliminated in the fourth round of the Australian Open before a Roland Garros quarter-final defeat to the hands of Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez.

They began their SW19 defence with an initially tricky but ultimately comfortable 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-2, 6-2 win over Matthew Ebden and Samuel Groth with 21 winners on Court 8 in two hours and five minutes.

The No.1 seeds endured a sloppy start, allowing the Australian pair to close out the opening set in 24 minutes. A second set tie-break brought parity as five consecutive points eased them through.

An early Bryan break in the third set established control, as their intelligent net play, precise winners and several unforced errors from across the net, nullified their opponent’s weaponry from the baseline before a further break in the fifth game all but sealed the set.

With no response imminent from their unseeded opponents, the brothers took full control, breaking in the third and seventh games before Mike’s unreturned serve ensured a second-round tie with Roberto Bautista Agut and Igor Sijsling as their 16th Grand Slam pursuit continues.

Closing play on No.2 Court was former US Open quarter-finalists Jamie Murray and John Peers, who saw off the threat of Jamie Delgado and Gilles Muller 6-3, 7-6(7), 6-3. The No.14 seeds were only pushed in the second set when they were taken to a tie-break but they eventually ran out convincing winners, amassing a total of 102 points compared to their opponents 74.

Fellow Brit Jonathan Marray and Australian partner John-Patrick Smith suffered a 6-4, 6-7(5), 4-6, 3-6 defeat to Marcin Matkowski and Juan-Sebastian Cabal. Despite claiming the opening set, critical breaks in sets three and four secured the win for the No.15 seeds.

Among the other results, No.4 French seeds Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin passed the challenge of Lukas Rosol and Andre Begemann 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-3, while on Court 11 Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic dispatched Germany’s Dustin Brown and Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

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