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Top 10: Brothers in Davis Cup
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Top 10: Brothers in Davis Cup

This weekend, in Ghent, Jamie and Andy Murray might become the third siblings to win the same edition of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas. So we decided to look back on the brothers who played together in the most important of the team competitions.

 

Reginald and Lawrence Doherty (UK)

Since the Renshaw brothers were already too old to participate in the Davis Cup when it was created, the Dohertys are therefore the pioneers of the quest for the silver bowl with a sibling. The pioneers as well as the record holders of victories in the competition with a sibling: their repeated successes allowed Britain to win the event in 1903, 1904, 1905 and 1906. Lawrence Doherty even remained unbeaten, both in singles and doubles during those glorious years, or 12 successes in 12 games when Reginald only had 7 successes for 1 loss. What is funny is that the two brothers, also octuplets Wimbledon champions in doubles, knocked out Belgium in the final of the 1904 edition for the only accession of the country to the final before the revenge which will take place this week.

 

Marcello and Rolando del Bello (Italy)

After two years under the ban, following the Second World War, Italy reappeared in the Davis Cup in 1948. Until 1954, the team, immediately competitive, was notably composed of two brothers, Marcello and Rolando del Bello, who played in this short period respectively 43 and 25 matches. Together, they contributed to bring Italy in the inter-zone final in 1952 (Marcello had already played one in 1949 a few months before the first selection of his junior) but they lost against the US this kind of semi-final which allowed the winner to challenge the defending champion in the Challenge Round. It was their swan song: in their thirties, it was time for the two Romans to give way to one that would eventually become the greatest Italian champion in history, Nicola Pietrangeli.

 

Vijay and Anand Amritraj (India)

Over half a century after the Dohertys, the Indians Vijay and Anand Amritraj came close to lead in family, in their turn, a country to a first victory in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas. With Vijay, the excellent singles player (16th in the world at his best and 16 tournaments won), Anand, the backbone in doubles, and Ramesh Krishnan, India managed to rival the best and even qualified twice in final, in 1974 and 1987. But they didn't win any: the first time, India lost by forfeit after refusing to go to South Africa to protest against apartheid. And the second, when the Swedish armada Wilander, Jarryd and Nyström left no room for dreams, conceding them all in all a miserable set in five matches.

 

David and John Lloyd (UK)

Finalist of the Australian Open in 1977, also quarter-finalist at the US Open, John Lloyd was not only "M. Chris Evert" in the 70s and 80s. He was also one of the chief architects of what was until this year the latest final to date for Britain in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas in 1978. That season, a great John McEnroe had to stop the quartet Mottram, Cox, Lloyd... And Lloyd, or David, according to his birth certificate. Less known than his three compatriots, who could play both in singles and doubles, the elder brother of John was only playing in doubles, a discipline in which he had a total of 15 selections in Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, for 8 victories (including 4 with his brother).

 

Emilio and Javier Sanchez (Spain)

When Javier Sanchez, 22 years old, played his first Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, in 1987, his older brother, Emilio was already the backbone of the team, as well as a safe bet on the tour. Spain was then playing its first semi-finals in the competition in more than ten years, and logically lost against the most powerful country at the time, Wilander, Edberg and Jarry’s Sweden. Despite the defeat, the beginnings were prestigious for the youngest of the Sanchez family. It would however never have a sequel: a selection for a play off easily won the following year against Brazil, a quarter-final in the World Group lost in 1989 against the Yugoslavia of the young Goran Ivanisevic, and then that’s (almost) it, Javier being blocked by the emerging competition in Spain in the 1990s.

 

Byron and Wayne Black (Zimbabwe)

The Black brothers (and their sister Cara) placed Zimbabwe on the map of world tennis. Byron, the eldest, was 22nd in the world in singles and 1st in doubles, winner at Roland-Garros, when Wayne, the youngest, reached the 69th place in singles and 4th in doubles, with successes at the Australian Open and at the US Open. Together, they multiplied the feats in Davis Cup by BNP Paribas in the second part of the 90s, going in particular from the 2nd division to the quarter-finals of the World Group between 1997 and 1998 – best campaign in the history of the country – after successive victories against Andrei Medvedev’s Ukraine, Britain (but without Henman and Rusedski), Thomas Muster’s Austria and Woodforde, Woodbridge and Rafter’s Australia!

 

Nicolas and Giovanni Lapentti (Ecuador)

Regular of the Top 30, 6th in the world at his best, Nicolas Lapentti took Ecuador to the doors of the World Group during the 2000. Sometimes on the right side of the door, sometimes on the other. Alone? Not really. He was helped by his little brother, Giovanni, a challengers’ players. The brothers’ fifteen minutes of fame happened in the summer of the 2000 when, in the play offs of the World Cup, they succeeded a feat at Wimbledon against the British Henman and Rusedski, who got injured during the first match (defeat against Nicolas) and saw from the bench the defeat of his substitute, Arvind Parmar against Giovanni in the 5th decisive match: the player who was then 959th in the world became the hero of the week end. Britain, on its side, was relegated the year we celebrated the century of the competition.

 

Christopher and Oliver Rochus (Belgium)

21 matches in Davis Cup by BNP Paribas for Christopher between 1999 and 2010, 51 for Oliver between 2000 and 2014. A crew more than a family, with also Xavier Malisse, Steve Darcis and Kristof Vliegen, the brothers from Namur allowed Belgium to live a beautiful 2000 decade in Davis Cup, doing the elevator between the World Group and its anteroom. Arrived in the team in 1999, during the Belgian saga to the semi-finals, Christopher passed one more round than his youngest in the competition, Oliver remained meanwhile stuck in the quarter-finals (2007). But he stopped his career in 2014, a year before the mad campaign that led David Goffin and the others in the final (and maybe more) of the competition.

 

Bob and Mike Bryan (USA)

A century after the Dohertys, they were the second winning siblings of the same edition of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas. It was in 2007, and Bob and Mike Bryan won their four doubles on the road to the title. This victory, achieved with Andy Roddick, James Blake and Mardy Fish in singles, and the best doubles pair of their era had staggering statistics in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas: 27 games played together for the Californian twins, 23 victories. And they always fought in the World Group, facing the best in the world. This achievement places them alongside the duo John McEnroe-Peter Fleming and their legendary ratio of 14 wins for only 1 defeat. Easy.

 

Jamie and Andy Murray (UK)

The British tradition, again, to come full circle. Jamie Murray has long made a career in the shadow of his talented younger brother, owing him his greatest doubles titles in ATP 500. And then he grew older and he got better: at the same time that he disputed the finals of Wimbledon and the US Open on the ATP tour in 2015, he shone round after round in Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, passing close to beating the Bryan brothers in the first round, together with Dominic Inglot before playing games where he was far from being a weak link in the "Murray-Murray" association, against the French Tsonga and Mahut in the quarterfinals and then against the Australians Hewitt and Groth in the semis. If at the end of the weekend, Britain wins its first silver bowl since 1936, this will be mainly thanks to Andy, of course, but Jamie would have largely done its share of work.

 

By Guillaume Willecoq