WIMBLEDON, England — The ball skidded off the grass and sailed diagonally toward the corner of the court, seemingly destined for a winner.
Suddenly, though, there was Bob Bryan, a red-white-and-blue blur, racing back and desperately reaching with his left arm, arriving just in time to flick up his racket and loft a lob deep into the opponents' court.
"Any other match, I probably would've let that point it go, but not this one," Bryan would explain later. "I saw the ball hit and said, 'I think I can get there,' so I took off.
"I'm 34, but I've still got some spring in my legs."
That spring kept alive a point Bryan and his twin brother, Mike, would eventually win.
That point ended the match.
And not long afterward, the Bryans were standing atop the podium at the All England Club's famed Centre Court, gold medals dangling from their necks, listening to the "Star Spangled Banner" as the American flag was raised.
The brothers from Camarillo were finally Olympic champions.
With their 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) victory over France's Michael Llodra and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Saturday's Olympic final, the Bryans became only the fourth U.S. duo to win the men's doubles gold medal, the first since Ken Flach and Robert Seguso at the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul.
"This eclipses all of our other wins," Mike Bryan said, referring to the pair's 11 Grand Slam titles, including at least one in each of the four major tournaments. "There's nothing more special than this. It's something you dream about.
"To add 'Golden' in front of 'Slam' is pretty cool.
So cool, in fact, that Mike Bryan, upon seeing the Frenchmen's final shot crash into the net, punctuated the historic triumph by leaping into his brother's arms.
"Those moments," Mike Bryan said, "you don't really plan them out."
It was pure emotion.
"That's the longest we've ever hugged, but we've been through a lot together," Bob Bryan said. "We've had our ups and downs.
"We've spent 50,000 hours together, probably 30,000 of them on the court — hitting balls across the net in the sun, sweating, working our butts off to get here. That hug was the culmination of all that."
This year, the brothers lost finals at the Australian Open and French Open, then went out in the Wimbledon semifinals. But it was the Olympic gold medal, they said, that they wanted most.
"Wimbledon," Bob Bryan said, "felt like a warm-up to this moment."
The Bryans' grit and guile showed, too: They won six tiebreakers along the way and lost only one set in the tournament.
"We kind of had the magic on our side," Mike Bryan said. "We saved it all for this one."
The twins broke Tsonga's serve in the first game of the match, then fended off six break points on Mike Bryan's serve in a 22-point seventh game to take a 5-3 lead. Bob Bryan served out the set.
A tight second set went to a tiebreaker, which the Bryans dominated, taking advantage of Tsonga's errors — including an untimely double fault — to grab a 5-1 lead the French team couldn't overcome.
"We knew before coming here that it's going to be difficult," Llodra said. "But we are very proud to win a medal for the French."
France actually won two men's doubles medals: In addition to the silver won by Llodra and Tsonga, their countrymen Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet beat Spain's David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez to take the bronze.
All four flanked the Americans on the podium.
"We've won a lot of Slams, but I can tell you that there's no better feeling than this — winning not only for each other and for our team, but for our country," Bob Bryan said. "We're a different team when we're playing for our flag. And this brought a different level to our intensity.
"To hear the national anthem and stand on that podium, watching the flag go up. … We could shut our careers down today and be happy for the rest of our lives."
Not that they're done yet.
Bob Bryan said the brothers wouldn't mind defending their Olympic title in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
"We'll be 38, but that's our goal," he said. "If we stay healthy, that's where the story can end."
He wasn't sure, though, how much spring he'll have left in his legs.
Mike Bryan still has one match left in mixed doubles after he and partner Lisa Raymond lost to top seeds Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi of Belarus.
Mike Bryan and Raymond will play Sabine Lisicki and Christopher Kas of Germany in the bronze-medal match.
Andy Murray and Laura Robson of Britain beat the German duo 6-1, 6-7 (7), 10-7 to reach the gold-medal match.