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Twin-powers dictate family fortunes

sports Updated: Jan 15, 2008 14:44 IST
Twin-powers dictate family fortunes

With 14 Grand Slam singles titles between them, Venus and Serena Williams are devastating proof that playing happy families can pay handsome dividends.

But there's a battalion of brothers, sisters and even twins at the Australian Open in Melbourne this week who also know the benefits which accrue to the family that plays together.

Jusk ask brash American twins Bob and Mike Bryan, the world number one men's doubles pair.

They have their own rock band, are the subject of a book written by their father on how to rear successful children and are never short of something to say when a microphone or notebook is in the vicinity.

Which is just as well as the 29-year-old twins, having stacked up five Grand Slam titles and a Davis Cup title, have plenty to talk about.

"We're twins. We've been playing together since we were five years old," said Mike. "We kind of read each other's minds out there."

The duo have captured 44 titles and banked around five million dollars in prize money which isn't bad for a speciality of the sport which was in danger of dropping off the tour radar two years ago.

But the battling Bryans have no intention of seeing their partnership rupture.

"We're in this together. We're going to finish our careers together," said Mike.

While the Bryans high-five and chest-thump their way around the world, things are a little more traumatic in the Safin household.

Marat, the colourful former world number one, publicly doubted little sister Dinara Safina's determination to make her mark in 2005.

But Dinara believes the criticism may have worked in her favour.

"He is still the best and for me he's a hero," gushed Safina. "He thought that I wasn't listening but that wasn't true."

Three years on, it's big Marat who could do with some wise words.

His ranking has slumped to 57, although it hasn't prevented him from tackling Himalayan peaks in the off-season, while Safina was seeded 16 at the Australian Open.

Russia's sister act of Anastasia and Arina Rodionova, who regularly play doubles together, may find their family ties seriously tested.

Anastasia, 25, and seven years older than Arina, is taking Australian citizenship and is playing under the banner of her adopted home in Melbourne.

"I really hope the Australian people will embrace me," said Anastasia who has lived in the country for three years and has an Australian boyfriend.

In Britain, Andy Murray, now a member of the top 10 elite despite a first round exit in Melbourne, dominates. But it was older brother Jamie who had the honour of claiming a first Grand Slam title for the Scottish family.

In 2007, Jamie teamed with Serbia's Jelena Jankovic to win the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon, the first home success of any sort at the All England Club in 20 years.

Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska, now the world number 29, has also been a champion on the Wimbledon lawns taking the girl's title in 2005; the following year little sister Ursula made it to the last four.

Meanwhile, Asia can be proud of Thai twins Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana who claimed their second career doubles title in Chennai two weeks ago.

The 25-year-olds' secret?

"We look absolutely the same," said Sanchai. "It's OK for us but maybe that confuses the opponents."