It’s not a natural feeling for Bob and Mike Bryan, the winningest doubles team in history with an astounding 109 career titles, to be in a career slump.
But that’s just where the Bryans, who ended 10 of the past 13 seasons as the No. 1 team in the sport, find themselves situated at the Miami Open this year.
The brothers, who entered the tournament as the two-time defending champions and have four titles overall at Crandon Park, have lost all five tournaments they’ve played in this season.
In the past three events — at Memphis, Delray Beach and Indian Wells — the duo have had an overall 17 match points in the three matches they lost.
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“I don’t know how to explain it,” Bob Bryan said. “Hopefully, luck will turn our way as it always has. Right now, we’re in an ultimate cold streak.”
To make matters worse, they’ve failed to hoist the trophy at their past 11 tournaments since winning the Montreal title last August.
On Wednesday, the Bryans were sounding hopeful after journeying past Australian wild-card recipients Omar Jasika and John-Patrick Smith 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 to reach the semifinals.
“I feel like it’s turning,” Mike Bryan said. “We’re starting to play some good tennis, and we’re both healthy. Luck is starting to go our way.”
The Bryans understand one reason they’re not dominating as in the past is the competition keeps improving.
At the past 10 Grand Slams, 20 different male players have become the doubles champions. The Bryans won the last of their record 16 Grand Slam titles at the 2014 U.S. Open, and last played in a Grand Slam final at the 2015 French Open.
“There’s a lot more depth in the men’s game,” Mike Bryan said. “Right out of the gates you’re playing a tough team. I don’t feel we’re slowing down or playing any worse. It’s just in the past we won those tighter matches.”
For now, the Bryans are most focused on trying to win a second Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Rio Games. They won gold at the 2012 London Games.
“We’re putting a lot of incentive on Rio,” Bob Bryan said. “When we finished London we said a great goal is to play four more years and play the Olympics. But I’m not saying that’s our timeline.”
KUERTEN HAS FOND MEMORIES IN MIAMI
Gustavo Kuerten, a former world No. 1 and three-time French Open champion, is the face of Brazilian tennis.
The 39-year-old, at the Miami Open on Wednesday as a brand ambassador for Lacoste, is looking forward to his country hosting the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio this summer.
“I believe it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us, especially in Rio that has a DNA for a passion in sports already,” Kuerten said. “Hopefully, for Brazil having the Olympics will increase knowledge about sports that goes beyond winning and losing.”
Kuerten has fond memories of playing the Miami Open, especially a four-set nail-biter loss to Pete Sampras in the 2000 final.
“One of the prettiest losses I had in my career was playing Pete with a full stadium with more than 3,000 or 4,000 Brazilians,” Kuerten said. “Normally a loss is one you want to forget, but this one I’m happy to remember.”
Aware of the talk that the Miami Open might have to relocate since a court order prevents them from improving the Crandon Park site, Kuerten offered a possible solution.
“Come to Brazil,” he said. “We’re ready.”