Bryan brothers win consecutive Grand Slam titles
Published: Sunday, January 29, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 29, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
MELBOURNE, Australia - Bob and Mike Bryan won their second consecutive Grand Slam doubles title Saturday, using their recent experience to beat Leander Paes and Martin Damm 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 at the Australian Open.
The top-seeded Bryan brothers, who won the U.S. Open title last September, captured their first title in Melbourne and their third Grand Slam doubles crown together.
The American twin brothers were contesting their third successive final at the Australian Open, having lost the previous two. Their other Grand Slam title came at the 2003 French Open.
"It's unbelievable. I had nothing left in my body by the end of that match," said Bob Bryan. "It was so emotional. There was a lot of energy there, they were doing chest bumps, we were doing chest bumps.
"We were down break points pretty much every game in the third. It was just pure relief and happiness and excitement at the end."
There was some animosity afterward, with Mike Bryan saying the brothers were unhappy to see Paes and Damm "steal" their chest-bump celebration, and Paes responding that the Bryans were "in diapers" when he and another partner, Mahesh Bhupathi, began performing the celebration in matches.
The Bryans, who have played together for 10 years, were contesting their fifth consecutive Grand Slam tournament final.
"It feels good to get this notch, the last two years we came up short," said Mike Bryan. "There's nothing more special than to win with your brother."
The Bryans are the first team to back-to-back Grand Slam titles since Todd Woodbridge and Jonas Bjorkman won the 2003 Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles.
Cyprus' Marcos Baghdatis will be warmly welcomed when he returns to his tiny Mediterranean island nation, whether he won or lost the Australian Open final.
Baghdatis' remarkable run in the tournament has sparked a wave of celebrations in soccer-obsessed Cyprus and filled Greek Cypriots with pride.
"Marcos, pluck his feathers," read a large newspaper advertisement placed by the owners of a chicken farm, referring to top-ranked Roger Federer of Switzerland, Baghdatis' opponent in today's early-morning final.
The 20-year-old's picture has been splashed on the front pages of newspapers, while his success has forced politics - usually the leading issue in Cyprus - into the background.
His home town, Limassol, is preparing a massive welcome for him. The port city's council has announced it will name a street after him and establish a Marcos Baghdatis prize for athletes.
His brother, Petros, left for Australia on Friday to be at his side, bearing gifts from friends and relatives, including a gold cross from Limassol Bishop Athanasios.
Justine Henin-Hardenne hopes to rebound quickly from the stomach pain that knocked her out of the Australian Open women's singles final, and no one should doubt her, given her ability to return from previous layoffs.
But the latest ailment to strike the former No. 1 player raises questions about her, with TV commentator Tracy Austin wondering whether Henin-Hardenne's slight stature may be contributing to her problems.
The 5-foot-6, 126-pound Henin-Hardenne is a virtual pixie amid the new wave of powerfully built women's players. Austin, who won U.S. Open titles in 1979 and 1981, was a 5-foot-5, 120-pounder when she played.
Henin-Hardenne's list of injuries and illnesses includes a nasty, lingering virus that severely hampered her 2004 season.
Forcing her to lose time last year were right hamstring and knee injuries. She also has had, at various times in her career, two ankle sprains, inflammation of toe joints, an arm injury, left wrist and finger sprains, bronchitis and hypoglycemia.
Henin-Hardenne blamed her stomach pain on side effects from an anti-inflammatory medicine she has been taking for a sore shoulder.
On to Paris
Amelie Mauresmo's toughest tennis critics have been at Roland Garros, where she carries the hopes of her home country each year at the French Open.
Following her Australian Open win Saturday - her first Grand Slam singles title - she was asked if the win will help make things easier going back to Paris this time.
"I have no idea how it's going to be received there," Mauresmo said. "It's probably too early to say."
Mauresmo's best finishes in 11 French Open tournaments are two quarterfinal appearances. She feels she'll be more relaxed going back to Roland Garros this year.
"I think I've achieved a lot of things now in my career," she said, mentioning a Federation Cup win for France, a No. 1 ranking and now the Grand Slam win.
"I can be pretty relaxed now about the way I walk on court and the way I play. Really not too much to prove any more."
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