Stanford’s Bryan brothers back in business with win at Australian Open

Bob Bryan was four months removed from hip replacement surgery when he joined his twin and fellow Stanford graduate, Mike, for practice sessions in December in the hopes of reuniting the most successful men’s doubles team of tennis’ professional era.

It felt, Bob jokes now, like some sort of audition to earn back his old role after Mike had won two Grand Slam titles with another partner while Bob was sidelined.

On Wednesday at the Australian Open, the Bryans returned to the Grand Slam stage as a team with a first-round victory, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (1) over the Australian duo of Alex Bolt and Marc Polmans. It was significant for Bob, of course, and Mike, naturally, but also, perhaps, for Andy Murray, who is considering whether to have the same sort of operation.

“He’s been watching me like a hawk, asking me how I’m feeling after matches, after practices, where I’m at. He’s just trying to gauge how long it would take him, if this procedure is an option,” Bob said about Murray, a three-time major champion who said he will decide soon whether to try surgery for his own painful hip.

The 40-year-old Americans have won a record 16 Grand Slam trophies as a duo, six at Melbourne Park, and more than 100 tour titles together. They have spent hundreds of weeks ranked No. 1 in doubles.

Match-fixing scandal: Grigor Sargsyan, a 28-year-old Armenian known as the Maestro, is the suspected ringleader of an organized gambling syndicate suspected of fixing hundreds of matches and paying off more than 100 players from around Europe, investigators say.

As Roger Federer and other stars at the top of tennis compete in the Australian Open, players far lower down the sport’s rankings are being questioned by police in France on suspicion of fixing matches, investigators said. Sargsyan is being held in a Belgian jail.

The picture emerging from months of digging by police working across Europe is of a massive match-fixing scheme, organized via encrypted messaging, involving dozens of low-ranked players in small tournaments with little prize money. Police say Sargsyan employed mules, people hired for a few dollars to place bets for the syndicate that were small enough to slip under the radar of gambling watchdogs.

Sources said four French players were in police custody and at least one of them told investigators that he fixed around two dozen matches for Sargsyan.

They named the players as Jules Okala, 21; Mick Lescure, 25; Yannick Thivant, 31; and Jerome Inzerillo, 28. None operated in the highest spheres of tennis.

A dozen or more other French players are expected to be questioned in coming weeks. An investigator said France was one of the countries “hardest hit” by the syndicate, which targeted lower-level pro tournaments.

In all, more than 100 players are suspected of having worked with the syndicate, fixing matches, sets or games in exchange for payments of $570 to $3,400.

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