By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
The last time Mike and Bob Bryan reached the doubles finals of the SAP Open at San Jose's HP Pavilion, they lost to Scott Lipsky and David Martin.
All four players had something in common: Stanford men's tennis. That can't happen this year. Lipsky is in the field with Mexico's Santiago Gonzalez and if both teams continue to win, they would meet in the semifinal round.
The Bryan twins hope that's a good sign. You see, the greatest men's doubles team that has ever taken the court owns a record 84 career titles, including a record 13 Grand Slam titles.
The one tournament title that has eluded them? Right, the one in Stanford's backyard.
Playing in their 10th event in San Jose, the Bryan's have one last chance to check the SAP Open off their list.
The SAP Open won't be around next year.
"We're saddened to see another tournament leaving California, which has a rich tradition," Bob Bryan said. "But it is a global game and many countries are chomping at the bit to get a tournament. There are a lot of sports we're competing with here. It's a high profile area and tennis is lower on the food chain."
So they want to take advantage of this final opportunity.
"We've had a lot of cracks at it," Mike Bryan said. "It's just the way it goes. This year, we're going for it, especially being from Stanford and a lot of friends are coming out."
The Bryan's advanced into the quarterfinal with a 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) victory over the American team of Steve Johnson and Jack Sock on Tuesday. Johnson was a two-time NCAA singles champion while helping USC win four straight NCAA team titles.
"We had our hands full," Bob said. "I thought we started playing pretty well there and fought them off."
The Bryan brothers spent Monday at Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Center, hitting with the current team and reminiscing with their former coaches Dick Gould and John Whitlinger.
"Those were two of the most fun years we've had playing tennis," Bob said. "Playing with those teams was a blast. We went to the Stanford Track Shop and dropped a couple of hundred dollars on Stanford gear. It was fun to relive those memories and see the NCAA plaque on the wall."
Looking back from the beginning of their careers, neither thought they would be sitting here with so many records.
"We looked at the Woodie's (Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde, who won 83 titles together) record and laughed," Bob said. "They were so far out there we'd need a spaceship to get there. I don't know how we did it but we knocked them down, all of them. It's pretty mind-blowing."
The Bryan brothers will not play again until at least Thursday against a team yet to be determined.
Check the SAP Open website for details.