Although John Bromwich’s record as a singles player was superb, it was as a doubles player that he achieved his most enduring stature. Some claim he was the greatest the world had seen.
A loping, big-jawed man, with an unruly shock of blond hair, Bromwich was one of the most curious stylists in the game’s history. A natural left hander, he nevertheless served right handed, stroked with two hands on his right side and one, the left on his left side. Using a loosely-strung racket, he had superb touch and chipped maddeningly at his opponents shoe tops.
His overall record with Adrian Quist was amazing. The pair, Bromwich on the right court, won the Australian doubles title in 1938, 1939, and 1940; they won again when the championships were resumed after the war in 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1950 before giving up the title only after a tremendous struggle, 6-3 in the fifth against fellow Australians Frank Sedgman and Ken McGregor in 1951. He won the Australian singles title in 1939 and 1946. He also won the mixed doubles in 1938.
He missed winning Wimbledon by the narrowest of margins. In the 1948 final, Bob Falkenburg escaped him at three match point junctures. He won the Wimbledon doubles in 1948 and 1950 and the mixed in 1947 and 1948. Brom won three US doubles titles, 1939, 1949, and 1950 and won the mixed doubles in 1947.
He represented Australia in the Davis Cup from 1937 to 1939, then 1946 and 1947, and 1949 and 1950. In 1939, Quist and Brom were sure they’d win because they’d only lost 3-2 the year before, and the great Don Budge from the US had turned pro. It took them three weeks by boat to California, then a train to Philadelphia. War had been declared just before the matches began. Brom and Quist were triumphant in 1939, rebounding from 0-2 down against the Cup-holding US in Philadelphia to win. They began turning it around with a 5-7 6-2 7-5 6-2 doubles victory over Joe Hunt and Jack Kramer, and Bromwich clinched the Cup in the decisive fifth match, 6-0 6-3 6-1, over Parker. This was the first ‘Australian’ victory, after the Australasia years.
Ranked in the world top ten on both sides of the war, Brom, Quist and Parker were the only ones of such longevity – Brom made the list in 1938, 1939, 1946, 1947 and 1948, coming back splendidly after army service in which he was wounded and contracted malaria in the New Guinea campaign.