Extended Service: After nine years as a pro, Goldstein?s winding down.
Extended Service: After nine years as a pro, Goldstein?s winding down. Credit: Michael Baz/Legg Mason Tennis Classic

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Last night, I had the pleasure of watching what might just be Paul Goldstein‘s final appearance at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic. (Read Dave McKenna‘s column about the likely retiring hometown hero.) Sure, his singles-match loss to 14 seed Radek Stepanek got written up in the Post, but Goldstein also played again later that evening, in a doubles match with partner Tripp Phillips.

As good of a match as Goldstein gave Stepanek earlier in the day, he was facing considerably longer odds in this one: He and Phillips were matched up against the fabulous Bryan brothers, identical twins Mike and Bob—-the world’s No. 1-ranked doubles team.

And yeah, the brothers—-dressed identically head-to-toe, including matching caps and watches—-smoked ’em. Now I’m by no means a fuzzyball expert but the Bryans’ net play was unbelievable. Anything that popped over, they’d just smoke it right back over in a split-second. But Goldstein did manage a few nice winners, and truth be told, he didn’t get a whole lot of help from Phillips, who had at least three unforced errors in the hourlong two-set match. The hometown faves did manage to keep pace for most of the second set, taking a 4-3 lead, before the Bryans just said, “Enough of this.”

Afterward, though, both brothers got on the mike and said nice things about Goldstein, whom they cited as the reason they decided to attend Stanford, where Goldstein was a legend. And then the crowd sang Goldstein “Happy Birthday.” (He’s celebrating his 31st on Saturday.)

Said Mike Bryan: “If we’d known it was your birthday, we’d have let you win.”

Photo: Michael Baz/Legg Mason Tennis Classic