The U.S. men’s doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan won their first Olympic gold medal Saturday, beating France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michael Llodra, 6-1, 7-6 (6-2), in a game that was far more entertaining than its score might suggest. Both teams played creative and focused tennis, sustaining fast-paced volleys and inventing shots that delighted the crowd at Centre Court.
Perhaps the most amazing exchange of the match came on the final point, after Tsonga smashed the ball over the net from short range. Bob Bryan sprinted toward the corner scoreboard to chase down the descending ball, and struck a blind over-the-head shot that lobbed toward the French service line.
His trick shot landed in bounds, and the point continued. Both teams re-established their positions, but the set, and the match, ended when Llodra couldn’t handle a sharp backhand struck from the baseline by Mike Bryan. Llodra hit the ball into the net, the brothers hugged, and the crowd stood and cheered them and the silver-winning French team.
The Bryan brothers have won 11 Grand Slam titles, but prior to Saturday, their best Olympic result had been a bronze medal, in the Beijing 2008 Games.
“Our whole goal for this year was to upgrade that medal to something more shiny,” Bob Bryan said after the match. “And we did it.”
Asked where the achievement ranks in the career of what many call the best doubles team in history, Bob said, “It’s on top…. it’s unbelievable.”
“We could stop tomorrow, and we’d have a big smile on our faces for the rest of our lives,” Mark said.
The gold medal fills one of the only gaps in the Bryan brothers’ resume — much like their U.S. teammate Serena Williams, who won her first individual gold earlier on the same court.