MELBOURNE, Australia - Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek denied Bob and Mike Bryan their record 12th Grand Slam doubles title, beating the American twins 7-6 (1), 6-2 in the final of the Australian Open. The Woodies could probably sleep a little easier Saturday night.
The 33-year-old Bryans were attempting to secure their place as the most decorated doubles team since the Open Era began in 1968. The brothers remain level on 11 major titles with the Australian duo of Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge, also known by their nickname the Woodies.
"Obviously, it's disappointing," Bob Bryan said. "But you know, I thought we have had a great Australian swing, and we're playing, at least I'm playing a lot better than I did last year already. It bodes well for the rest of the year."
Paes and Stepanek are veteran doubles players but were teaming up for just the fourth time. Before partnering for a tuneup event at Sydney earlier this month, where they lost to the Bryan brothers, the Indian and Czech duo hadn't played together for nearly six years.
The Bryans have captured each major at least once, but they've been most dominant at Melbourne Park, where they've won three straight Australian titles and five overall. They hadn't lost here since the quarterfinals in 2008.
Bob Bryan has a special prize waiting for him at home. His wife was due to give birth to the couple's first child on Saturday and he's planning to catch a Sunday morning flight back home to Miami to try to be there in time.
"I have something to look forward to going home, so my mind is going to get off the match a lot quicker than it usually would after a final like this," he said.
For the 38-year-old Paes, the victory marks a career milestone. By winning the Australian Open, he completed a career doubles Grand Slam, adding to his three French Open titles, two U.S. Open titles and one Wimbledon title.
It was Stepanek's first major doubles title. The Czech player lost in his only other final at the 2002 U.S. Open.
Paes and Stepanek dominated the first-set tiebreak, taking advantage of rare misses by the brothers and a couple of deft volleys by Paes to capture six straight points.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Paes, a former No. 1 doubles player, has a shot to pick up another trophy at Melbourne Park, too. He's in the mixed doubles final with partner Elena Vesnina on Sunday, playing against Horia Tecau and Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
The Bryans will have another shot at the Grand Slam record at the French Open in a few months. Even though one of them is soon to be a father, they don't have plans to stop playing anytime soon.
"We both feel young," Bob Bryan said. "If we want to play this sport for another seven years, it's going to be there for us if we stay healthy.
"The singles game, as you see, is just incredibly physical. Guys, if they can get past 30, it's amazing. But doubles, 40, 40 seems to be the age now."
Watching Rafa Nadal churn his way through the claycourt season over the past few weeks, it seems nothing much has changed since his French Open triumph a year ago despite a lengthy injury layoff.
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