Bryans Twins Remain Focused; South Americans Notch First Masters Cup Win
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Two-time Tennis Masters Cup champions Bob and Mike Bryan further strengthened their chances of finishing the year as the No. 1-ranked team after recording their second round robin win in the Red Group with a 7-5, 3-6, 10-4 win over Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles in Shanghai on Tuesday. The American twins improved to 3-1 lifetime over Bhupathi and Knowles with victory in one hour and 33 minutes that guaranteed them a place in the semifinals.
"It was obviously a very important match, so it feels good to go 2-0 in the [Red] group," said Mike Bryan. "Puts us in, you know, good position... [and] that takes a little pressure off."
The Bryan brothers, who are this week chasing a historic fourth consecutive year-end No. 1 team title (and fifth overall) and are also looking to tie for the individual No. 1 honor in the year-end Stanford ATP Doubles Rankings, won 69 per cent of service points – including 32 of 40 points on first serve.
The California natives are playing at the Tennis Masters Cup for a fifth time and captured the title at Houston in 2003 (d. Llodra-Santoro) and again the following year (d. Black-Ullyett). They improved to a 14-5 event record.
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"We actually love playing here," said Bob Bryan. "I think they have the best fans in the world. You know, they're waiting outside the hotel. They make us feel really loved here.
We've played some great matches and some exciting matches here in Shanghai. They all haven't gone our way, but we have a lot of good memories. Hopefully we can make the best memory this year."
The Bryans have compiled a 63-16 match record on the season, claiming five titles from 11 finals in 20 tournament appearances. Their season highlight came at Flushing Meadows in early September when they claimed their second US Open title (d. Dlouhy-Paes) and their sixth Grand Slam overall.
Indian-Bahamian pair Bhupathi and Knowles are making their team debut at Tennis Masters Cup. Knowles (w/ former partner Nestor) is the defending champion, while Bhupathi teamed with countryman Leander Paes for three runner-up finishes at the circuit finale in 1997, ‘99 and 2000.
The team dropped to a 37-18 match record on the season, highlighted by winning three titles at Memphis (d. Ratiwatana-Ratiwatana), Dubai (d. Damm-Vizner) and Basel (d. Kas-Kohlschreiber). The title in Basel was Knowles’ 50th career doubles title, making him the 21st player in ATP history to reach the milestone.
Pablo Cuevas and Luis Horna, who secured their team's first berth at Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai by virtue of their Roland Garros triumph and a Top 20 finish in the Stanford ATP Doubles Race, recorded their first round robin win at the prestigious circuit finale after defeating South Africans Jeff Coetzee and Wesley Moodie 6-2, 6-7(2), 11-9 in one hour and 38 minutes.
Cuevas and Horna hit three aces and won 63 per cent of service points. The Uruguayan and Peruvian, who will compete against Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles in their final Red Group match, converted three of seven break point opportunities. They won 72 of 143 points in total and improved to an 8-3 match record this year.
Coetzee and Moodie, who lost 6-2, 6-3 to Bhupathi and Knowles on Sunday, dropped to 28-17 on the season. The team clinched their Shanghai berth with a runner-up finish at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris (l. to Bjorkman-Ullyett) earlier this month.