Bryan brothers quest for gold
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.
"Play really good Davis Cup together; they've had a lot of good results."
"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."
"Veteran Brazilians who've played a lot together, so they're going to be an experienced pair."
"Andre Sa's a great returner, and Bellucci's a great singles player, hits the ball very pure."
"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."
"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."
"Big hitters. Dangerous. Don't want to see them."
"Won a ton of matches playing for their country, and I consider them one of the top eight teams in this field."
"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."
"I think they've played together a little bit. Two guys that we've seen a lot in the doubles and very talented."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"Been playing together for 10 years, Grand Slam champs. We've had many tough matches against them."
"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. "
"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."
"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."
"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."
"Tecau, [multiple] Wimbledon finalist. Ungur I'm not familiar with, but I'm sure he's a great player!"
"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."
"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."
"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."
"Lack hits the ball. Klizan, we'd have to read about a little bit."
"Granollers is a really good doubles player. Good hands."
"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."
"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."
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