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Kontinen, Peers thwart Bryans’ bid for 17th major in doubles

Finland’s Henri Kontinen, right, and Australia’s John Peers hold their trophy aloft after winning the men’s doubles final against Bob and Mike Bryan of the U.S. at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. (Aaron Favila / Associated Press)
Finland’s Henri Kontinen, right, and Australia’s John Peers hold their trophy aloft after winning the men’s doubles final against Bob and Mike Bryan of the U.S. at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. (Aaron Favila / Associated Press)
By Justin Bergman Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia – Henri Kontinen and John Peers captured the men’s doubles title at the Australian Open on Saturday, thwarting Bob and Mike Bryan’s attempt to win a record-equaling 17th Grand Slam title.

The Bryans said afterward that it may have been their last match at Melbourne Park as they’ve contemplated retiring after this season, though they stressed that matching – or breaking – the Grand Slam doubles title record remains a goal they’d like to achieve.

“It would be nice to go out the way Pete (Sampras) went out. Win a slam,” Bob Bryan said, referring to Sampras’ decision to retire after winning his 14th major singles title at the 2002 U.S. Open. “That would feel really good. We believe we can do it. That’s why we’re here.”

With the Bryans’ serving to stay in the match in the second set, Kontinen set up match point with a volley crosscourt winner and Peers followed with a lob winner from the baseline to secure a 7-5, 7-5 victory.

It’s the first major title for the fourth-seeded Kontinen and Peers, who started playing together at last year’s Australian Open and won five titles in 2016. They also remained undefeated in three matches against the Bryan brothers, the most decorated doubles team in history.

“You know their history, how many slam finals they played and won,” Kontinen said. “They’re always going to be a tough team to beat. To do it now three times in a row is great for us.”

After a dominant stretch at Melbourne Park, making the final for nine out of 10 years from 2003-14, the Bryans have now come up short four years in a row. They also haven’t won a major title since the 2014 U.S. Open, their longest drought since the early years of their career.

The 38-year-old brothers have committed to playing at least one more year in order to chase the all-time doubles major record currently held by John Newcombe. They are tied with Roy Emerson and Todd Woodbridge on 16.

“There was a period in our career where we were knocking down a lot of those records and hitting a lot of numbers,” Bob Bryan said. “Now we kind of just want to do a little more of it, go out with a bang. We don’t want to limp out of the game.”

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