By Martyn Herman
PARIS (Reuters) – Mike Bryan says is ready to shut down one of the best doubles partnerships ever if twin brother Bob fails to recover from the hip injury that forced him to miss the French Open.
The 40-year-old Americans have been inseparable since starting out in 1995, winning 16 Grand Slam titles together.
They had contested a record 76 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments starting from 1999 — a streak ended when Bob injured himself in the Madrid final when victory could have put the Bryans back to number one in the rankings.
Mike entered the French Open with fellow American Sam Querrey but after losing in the first round on Tuesday, said the end of an incredible journey might be looming.
“If he can’t come back then I will have to figure out if I want to keep doing it without him,” the right-handed half of the duo told reporters.
“It’s much more fun when we’re doing it together and it’s felt a bit lonely this week. It’s like I’m missing half of myself. We are a package deal and that’s one of the reasons we’ve been playing so long.
“If he can’t play any more I’d probably shut it down too.”
The Bryans have a record 116 titles, including this year in Miami and Monte Carlo so Bob’s injury is especially ill-timed.
While Mike had some laughs with world number 15 singles player and friend Querrey, the chemistry was not there.
“Bob actually wanted me to go out there. He felt a little guilty, he said go out there and play with Sam,” he said.
“Even though we lost we had some laughs but it feels like the routines were all discombobulated and that’s it’s just probably not as much fun. This week was not as exciting. My best friend wasn’t there.
“We are twins and have been doing it forever. There is no need for me to keep going out there if he is on the shelf for a long period of time.
“Hopefully we can continue on. I think that’s why I love this game, because of playing with him. If I can’t do that in the future I would probably join him on the couch.”
Mike said he had not given up on them playing at Wimbledon where they won the title three times and also claimed the Olympic gold medal in 2012.
“Hopefully we can still take on the grass but still you never know, it’s been bugging him for a couple of months so we’ll see,” Mike said. “The way it looked in Madrid it was pretty acute, it was not just a dull ache it was a sharp (pain). He’s getting treatment and hopefully he’ll get over the hump.”
Bizarrely the first time he did not have his brother by his side at a slam, Bryan and Querrey were up against British siblings Ken an Neal Skupski.
“I looked across and saw us!” he said after the 7-5 6-4 defeat.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)