It was only a few years ago that Stanford grad Scott Lipsky, teaming with partner Dane Martin, upended the world No. 1-ranked Bryan brothers at the SAP Open in San Jose.
"For much of the past year, Lipsky was the third-highest ranking American in the world doubles ranking, behind both Bryans," said Dick Gould, the former Stanford coach who help guide the careers of all three players. "He has always played well against the twins."
The Bryans avenged that defeat to Lipsky, and current partner Rajeev Ram, with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory on Thursday inside Arthur Ashe Stadium at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
A year ago at the US Open, the Bryans were chasing the calendar year Grand Slam heading into New York, having won at the 2013 Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. Twelve months later, the No. 1-ranked team in the world entered the year's final major with 99 career titles as a pair, the most in history.
The brothers took another step towards reaching the century mark with their hard-fought over the unseeded duo of Scott Lipsky and Ram.
The Bryans are hoping to become the first team in tennis history to win 100 tournaments together, a stat that has been hovering over their heads throughout their two weeks at the US Open.
"Going for 100 on Sunday is going to be something special," Mike Bryan said of the doubles final this weekend. "We'd love to get it done now and here at the Open."
The Bryans have won four US Open crowns and were finalists in 2003.
It was in the semifinals that they were stopped a year ago in their quest for the Grand Slam, losing to eventual champions Leander Paes of India and Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic on this very same court.
Thursday they jumped to a one-set lead on Lipsky-Ram before getting broken to open the second set. The rest of the second set went on serve to force a third and decisive set, the third time this tournament that the Bryans were pushed to the limit.
But the world No. 1 team proved superior in the third, coming back from a 15-40 hole in the fifth game and then breaking serve in the next to take a 4-2 lead. It proved insurmountable for Lipsky-Ram, who had taken the Bryans to five sets in their most recent meeting in the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 2012.
"We just got it going (in the third set)," Bob Bryan added on court. "We could see the finish line and just said to one another, '15 more minutes, let's go hard.' Luckily the balls fell and we're going to the finals."
The Bryan brothers will play the No. 11-seeded Spanish team Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez in Sunday's final.
Granollers-Lopez own the only meeting between the two teams, the Spaniards capturing a straight-set victory in the French Open quarterfinals earlier this year.
For now, they're trying to keep their minds clear the next two days of the magnitude of what a win would mean.
"Bob is going to take his kids to Central Park and I'm going to keep my mind off that 100th title," Mike said. "We're going to practice and give it everything we've got. We're pumped. We're looking forward to another final here at the Open."
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