Commentary

Bryan brothers quest for gold

Originally Published: July 28, 2012
By Kamakshi Tandon | Special to ESPN.com

It's not often that the doubles prize at a tournament equals the singles prize, but, at the Olympics, the two events offer exactly the same reward. And it shows in the field.

"A gold medal's a gold medal, it doesn't matter if you win it in singles or doubles," says Bob Bryan, recalling Roger Federer's joyful celebrations after winning the doubles in Beijing. "You can see how happy Roger was.

"So that's going to elevate the competition. I think all these guys in the draw are going to be as hungry to win a doubles match as a singles match. And yeah, that just increases the intensity and makes everyone tough."

The men's doubles event has attracted the top singles and doubles players, with the national pairings creating some interesting combinations. Some teams are an established doubles presence, like the Bryans, some pair two singles stars, like Andy Roddick and John Isner, and some are made up of a doubles specialist playing with a singles player, like Andy and Jamie Murray.

"It's going to be hard to predict, who's going to do well," Mike Bryan says. "All these guys have played a lot of doubles.

"Five, six years ago, you would find a lot of inexperienced singles plays that you could exploit.

"Every match is a new game plan, a new strategy. It's just going to be interesting combinations."

The Bryan twins will be trying to add a gold medal to their already all-time great doubles careers when the Games begin. They gave ESPN.com their team-by-team breakdown of a field that mixes familiar names in unfamiliar ways.

Argentina: David Nalbandian/Eduardo Schwank

"Play really good Davis Cup together; they've had a lot of good results."

Austria: Jurgen Melzer/Alexander Peya

"They're experienced Davis Cuppers, and Melzer's a Wimbledon champion."

Belarus: Alexander Bury/Max Mirnyi

"Mirnyi, one of the legends of doubles, playing with kind of an inexperienced partner, but we watched him play in Monte Carlo, and he's a huge guy. Big server, it's going to be tough on the grass."

[+] EnlargeRoger Federer
Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty ImagesRoger Federer won Olympics gold with Stan Wawrinka in 2008. Will they repeat?

Brazil: Marcelo Melo/Bruno Soares

"Veteran Brazilians who've played a lot together, so they're going to be an experienced pair."

Brazil: Thomaz Bellucci/Andre Sa

"Andre Sa's a great returner, and Bellucci's a great singles player, hits the ball very pure."

Canada: Daniel Nestor/Vasek Pospisil

"Nestor and anyone would be tough, but this kid, Pospisil, he's young and he's strong and he just made the top 100 in singles."

Colombia: Juan Sebastian Cabal/Santiago Giraldo

"They're more of a clay-court team, but Cabal made the final of the French Open. They've played a lot of big matches together for Davis Cup. They're crafty."

Croatia: Marin Cilic/Ivan Dodig

"Big hitters. Dangerous. Don't want to see them."

Czech Republic: Tomas Berdych/Radek Stepanek

"Won a ton of matches playing for their country, and I consider them one of the top eight teams in this field."

France: Michael Llodra/Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

"Very, very good doubles players. Llodra's a Wimbledon champion. Tsonga's won Masters Series in doubles. They haven't played that much together, but I'm sure they'll be working on it. Tsonga's got a huge serve, so any holes in a doubles game can be hidden."

France: Julien Benneteau/Richard Gasquet

"I think they've played together a little bit. Two guys that we've seen a lot in the doubles and very talented."

Germany: Christopher Kas/Philipp Petzschner

"They played a lot last year. Kas is a really good doubles specialist; Petzschner is really a talented Wimbledon champion."

Great Britain: Andy Murray/Jamie Murray

"They've won some tournaments. They know each other pretty well."

Great Britain: Colin Fleming/Ross Hutchins

"They've been around the last couple of years, and they won a grass-court tournament. I consider them a top eight to 10 team on tour."

India: Leander Paes/Vishnu Vardhan

"Paes and this guy I've never heard of. But Leander can do it all, and he's very good at getting the best out of his partners."

India: Mahesh Bhupathi/Rohan Bopanna

"I'm sure they're going to be very happy that they're in the draw, so they're going to be playing with nothing to lose."

Israel: Jonathan Erlich/Andy Ram

"Been playing together for 10 years, Grand Slam champs. We've had many tough matches against them."

Italy: Daniele Bracciali/Andreas Seppi

"Bracciali just beat Nestor and Mirnyi in doubles. He's a great player. We actually played him in the juniors a lot. He won a lot of Grand Slam juniors. Seppi, good returner. Haven't seen a ton of him, but they'll make a good team. "

Japan: Kei Nishikori/Go Soeda

"Japanese guys are always tough. Who knows? Those are two guys we don't have a lot of info on, so it'd be nice to see them play a couple of matches to get a good scouting report."

Netherlands: Robin Haase/Jean-Julien Rojer

"Rojer's playing some of the best tennis of his career right now. Haase. Luckily we got a look at him. He's got a big serve and a good backhand return."

Poland: Mariusz Fyrstenberg/Marcin Matkowski

"They're wild cards. You never know what they're going to bring, but they're dangerous and they serve huge. I don't think grass is their favorite surface, but they've beaten all the great teams."

Romania: Horia Tecau/Adrian Ungur

"Tecau, [multiple] Wimbledon finalist. Ungur I'm not familiar with, but I'm sure he's a great player!"

Russia: Nikolay Davydenko/Mikhail Youzhny

"Two really good returners, good ball strikers. They don't play a ton of doubles, but Youzhny beat us in a big U.S. Open match. They'll be tough."

Serbia: Janko Tipsarevic/Nenad Zimonjic

"They've played a ton of matches together. Really good, experienced doubles play in Zimonjic, and Janko can light it up on the return. Good serve for a small guy."

Serbia: Novak Djokovic/Viktor Troicki

"Two guys that just see the ball very well and you can't take lightly even though they haven't torn it up in doubles. Two guys that could easily bust a hole in the draw."

Slovak Republic: Martin Klizan/Lukas Lacko

"Lack hits the ball. Klizan, we'd have to read about a little bit."

Spain: Marcel Granollers/ Marc Lopez

"Granollers is a really good doubles player. Good hands."

Spain: David Ferrer/Feliciano Lopez

"Ferrer, don't see him too much on the doubles court, but this could be a good combo because you've got a great lefty serve and a good returner."

Sweden: Johan Brunstrom/Robert Lindstedt

"Both veteran doubles players. They play Davis Cup together. Righty-lefty combination, power players, big servers."

Switzerland: Roger Federer/Stanislas Wawrinka

"Gold medalists from last time. Enough said."

U.S.: John Isner/Andy Roddick

"Huge serving, dangerous grass-court team."

U.S.: Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan

"And then you've got us."