An Immediate Connection: Mike Bryan & Jack Sock
In five tournaments together, Mike Bryan and Jack Sock have picked up two Grand Slam titles
Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan were close to becoming the world’s best team once again in May, but Bob Bryan’s hip was causing him too much pain to ignore. With 116 tour-level team titles – including 16 majors and 38 ATP World Tour Masters 1000s – in tandem with his brother, Mike Bryan, one half of the most successful team in history had no other option but to look for another doubles partner.
Sam Querrey came on board for Roland Garros, Mike’s eighth different doubles partner – also David Rikl, Michael Hill, Mark Knowles, Mahesh Bhupathi, Mardy Fish and Steve Johnson – other than a blood relative since 2002.
Could Mike add to the two ATP World Tour crowns in 2002 without his sibling – at Nottingham (w/Knowles) and Long Island (w/Bhupathi)? It wasn’t to be, as Mike and Querrey made a first-round exit in Paris (l. to the Skupski brothers). Mike also played with Frances Tiafoe (Atlanta) and Edouard Roger-Vasselin (Washington, D.C.), but at the Fever-Tree Championships in London he found a connection with Jack Sock, who can rip apart any team’s defence with his laser-like power forehand.
Sock, 25, had already won three other titles in 2018 with as many partners – the Delray Beach Open in February (w/Jackson Withrow), the BNP Paribas Open in March (w/John Isner, beating the Bryans in the final) and the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Lyon (w/Nick Kyrgios).
Now, five tournaments into their partnership, and with Bob Bryan still recovering from hip surgery that he underwent on 2 August, Mike Bryan and Sock have captured two Grand Slam championships – Wimbledon (d. Klaasen/Venus) and the US Open (d. Kubot/Melo). Together, they have a 14-2 match record.
"I think Bob is maybe the frontrunner if he gets healthy," said Mike Bryan in New York, joking about picking between his brother and Sock once Bob gets healthy. "I think he is looking forward to coming back. He's seeing our good results, and he sees how much I love being out here still at 40. He's itching to play next season. It's good to go out on your own terms instead of an injury, and he's super motivated. He was actually the first guy to call us on the court to talk to both of us. He's been really supportive. He gets so nervous that he can't watch the matches but he watches the scores tick.
"I think Bob's got first dibs," said Mike Bryan.
"I think he's earned it," Sock replied.
"I might be the guy going out with injury next year, and it could be Jack and Bob," said Mike Bryan.
Mike returned to No. 1 on 16 July, almost 15 years after first reaching the summit of the team game (8 September 2003), and has now won more major doubles titles (18) than any other player. With Sock, the Americans are up to fourth place in the ATP Doubles Race To London.
One spot above them in the battle for Nitto ATP Finals qualification, is the team of Mike and his brother, Bob, courtesy of two titles – the Miami Open presented by Itaú (d. Khachanov/Rublev) and the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (d. Marach/Pavic) – from four straight ATP World Tour Masters 1000 finals (also Indian Wells and Madrid, where Bob sustained his injury).
It’s safe to say Mike has options over who to play with at The O2 in London, from 11-18 November.
Sock said, "Mike looks good for London. That's what it is."
Mike smiled, adding, "I'll probably qualify with someone."
Time will tell if Bob will return this year, with his steel hip replacement, to the scene of two (2009, 2014) of their four season finale crowns (also 2003-04).