Four-time former champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan drew on their experience to get off to a winning start in Group Woodbridge/Woodforde on Monday, when they improved to 38-22 lifetime at the season finale.
The fifth-seeded American twins saved three set points in the first set en route to beating fourth-seeded Briton Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares of Brazil 7-5, 6-7(3), 10-8 in one hour and 43 minutes at The O2 in London.
Murray and Soares broke Bob Bryan to 30 in the fifth game, with Soares wrong footing the server with an angled forehand into the Ad court. Last year’s No. 1s in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings went on to take a 5-3 lead, with Murray holding three set point chances at 40/15 (including a deciding deuce point).
The Bryans, who first qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals in 2001, were galvanised by a drive volley forehand from Bob Bryan to save the first point and by the time Mike Bryan struck a short forehand to Soares at the net on the deciding deuce point, the momentum of the match had swung.
From a 3-5 deficit in the first set to a 4-1 advantage in the second set, the Californian twins did little wrong. Murray and Soares regrouped, changing return pace and direction — striking low to the net rushing opponents — and recovered to 4-4. But they missed out on a chance of winning a fourth game in a row on a deciding deuce point.
Murray and Soares were razor sharp in the second set tie-break, aggressive on return and clinical at the net to win five of the first six points. They sealed the set when Murray served to Mike Bryan’s backhand, returning long.
In the Match tie-break, the Bryans refocused and opened up a 4/0 advantage — kangaroo skipping on a couple of occasions in celebration of solid net points. While Murray and Soares’ frustrations grew as they were unable to pierce the defences of the Americans, they saved three match points. But they left their comeback too late, with Mike Bryan swatting away a forehand volley winner off a Soares return.
The Bryans, who are seeking the 115th team title of their careers, are now 38-18 on the season that includes two ATP World Tour titles at Eastbourne (d. Bopanna/Sa) and at Atlanta (d. Koolhof/Sitak).
It was their first meeting of 2017, having split last year’s clashes at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome (Bryans) and the Nitto ATP Finals (Murray/Soares).
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