Doubles partners and brothers Mike and Bob Bryan have had little trouble advancing to tournament finals this year, but the titles had been a bit more elusive. Yesterday, the Bryans added their third title this season with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.
The Bryans have advanced to the final in 10 of 14 tournaments, including all three of the Grand Slams. Now, the duo has a new coach, and their work with him is starting to pay dividends.
"A title is a title. It's always good to win," Bob Bryan said. "We would love it if it had been one of the Grand Slams. But I thought we played our best match of the year. We've got a new coach, and he is pushing us to be more aggressive on our returns, and it's working."
The Bryans started quickly yesterday, breaking Ullyett when he double-faulted on game point. At 4-3, and trailing 15-40, Mike Bryan managed to hold serve.
The second set was nearly identical to the first, with the Bryans breaking Ullyett in the first game, and then securing another service break in the fifth game for a 4-1 lead.
Despite the win, the Bryans once again criticized the ATP about proposed changes to the doubles format that are scheduled to go into effect after the U.S. Open. In hopes of inducing more well-known singles players to play doubles, the ATP is adapting no-advantage scoring and playing tiebreakers at 4-4 so that best-of-three set matches end more quickly.
The Bryans argue that the changes will marginalize the doubles game among fans, and will not attract top singles players such as Roger Federer, Andy Roddick or Lleyton Hewitt to enter the doubles draw.
"It's a Mickey Mouse format," Mike Bryan said. "It's unfortunate that the ATP has taken such a stance."
A Good Comeback
Ashley Harkleroad needed a little over an hour to dispatch Olga Poutchkova, 6-2, 6-1, in the final of the inaugural Legg Mason USTA Pro Circuit tournament. The women's event, which features players attempting to earn points to play on the WTA Tour, was the first in the 37-year history of the tournament.
Harkleroad, who once was ranked at 40 on the WTA, is attempting a comeback after taking 10 months off to heal inflammation in her right elbow and care for her mother, who has skin cancer. The 17-year-old Poutchkova trains at the Tennis Center in College Park.
Harkleroad dominated Poutchkova with stinging ground strokes, forcing the Russian into countless errors. She nabbed the first set in 32 minutes, winning four out of the last five games during which Poutchkova won only six points. After trading break points in the first two games of the second set, Harkleroad reeled off five consecutive games.
"She really hits the ball hard," said Harkleroad, who compared Poutchkova's pace with those of Jennifer Capriati and Venus and Serena Williams.