NEW YORK — Yes, even Bob and Mike Bryan hit the panic button every now and then.
Facing an opponent who knows them as well as anyone, the identical twins switched sides for their serve returns in the second set of their third-round U.S. Open match Sunday. That switch, described as “desperate” by both brothers, triggered a comeback that kept alive their hopes of becoming the first men’s doubles team to capture the calendar Grand Slam in 62 years.
“It’s a pretty big deal, because you never practice the other way,” Mike Bryan said after the 6-7 (1), 7-5, 6-2 victory over Vasek Pospisil and Daniel Nestor. “But when you’re desperate, you kind have nothing to lose, just because we didn’t have much hope the other way.”
With Mike, the right-hander, returning from the deuce side and Bob, the lefty, in the ad court, the Bryans were down a break at 4-3 in the second set before they finally got through to Nestor’s serve. It was the first of four consecutive times the 40-year-old, eight-time major titlist lost serve.
“Maybe, a little bit,” Nestor said when asked if the switch flustered him. “Probably could’ve mixed it up a little more.”
The third set felt much more routine for the Bryans, as did the finish, which they celebrated with their trademark chest bump: The “Bryan Bump.” The Bryans won their 27th consecutive Grand Slam match, dating to the start of last year’s U.S. Open.
BERDYCH CRUISING ALONG: Fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych played his third-round match on the Grandstand, the third-largest stadium at the U.S. Open.
In a sport dominated by four players, Berdych is easily overlooked. But he is cruising so far at Flushing Meadows, where he reached the semifinals last year after beating Roger Federer.
The Czech routed No. 31-seeded Julien Benneteau 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 and has yet to drop a set at this year’s U.S. Open.
AUSSIE MOVES ON: Former champion Lleyton Hewitt made the fourth round of the U.S. Open for the first time since 2006 with a 6-3, 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-1 win over Evgeny Donskoy.
The 32-year-old Hewitt, a former No. 1 who won the tournament in 2001, is a win away from making his first Grand Slam quarterfinal since Wimbledon in 2009.