Doubles Take returns with a look at some of the best in team play on the ATP and WTA tours.
THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER...ON THE CLAY, WITH SOMEONE ELSE?
Back during the recently completed grass-court season, one of the best teams on the turf was the Croatian-Austrian pairing of Mate Pavic and Oliver Marach. The duo made three finals, including the biggest one of them all at Wimbledon.
They’ve kept their solid play up the past few weeks, but it hasn’t been with each other.
Pavic captured the German Open with countryman Ivan Dodig for his first title of the year.
Meanwhile, Marach followed suit in teaming up with a countryman. He and Philipp Oswald beat Jonathan Eysseric and Franko Skugor in the final of the Swiss Open.
Like Pavic, this was also Marach’s first title of 2017. As the tour turns to hard courts, it will be intriguing to see if they can keep their successful runs going—together or apart.
GEORGIA ON THEIR MINDS
Bob and Mike Bryan, perhaps the greatest doubles team of all time, have handled being the favorites with aplomb on many an occasion in title matches—114 times, if you want to be exact.
On Sunday, the twins won the Atlanta Open title with a straight-sets victory over Wesley Koolhof and Artem Sitak.
It’s the second title of the season for the Bryans, who won on grass in Eastbourne right before Wimbledon. It’s a sure sign that the brothers are heating up at the right time with the last Slam of the year, the US Open, on the horizon.
A DUTCH TREAT
After a few years of racking up titles on the ITF circuit in singles and doubles, Quirine Lemoine and Arantxa Rus—both of the Netherlands—broke through on the main tour, winning the doubles title at the Swedish Open over Maria Irigoyen and Barbora Krejcikova, 3-6, 6-3, (10-8).
Qianhui Tang and Xinyu Jiang have also won multiple doubles titles on the ITF circuit the past couple of seasons, a sure sign of a bright future for both of them. Tang is only 16 years old, while the elder Jiang is all of 18.
The pair from China demonstrated precociousness—along with some solid play—all week long at the Jiangxi Open in Nanchang. In their first WTA final, they defeated veterans Alla Kudryavtseva and Arina Rodionova, 6-3, 6-2.
Those teens definitely did not respect their elders. Wait, “elders”? Kudryavtseva is 29, while Rodionova is 27.
A LOOK AHEAD
This week, both the men and women converge on the U.S. capital for the Citi Open. On the men’s side, the draw is stacked as many of the players start to kick up their U.S. Open preparations. All of this year’s Slam-winning teams are in the draw, led by Aussie champs Henri Kontinen and John Peers, and Wimbledon winners Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo. The draw’s so deep, in fact, that French Open champs Ryan Harrison and Michael Venus are unseeded. On the women’s side, Sania Mirza and Monica Niculescu are the top seeds. An interesting pairing is the team of Eugenie Bouchard and Sloane Stephens.
In Stanford at the Bank of the West Classic, a WTA Premier tournament, the top seeds are Raquel Atawo and Hao-Ching Chan, both formidable doubles players that could make for an intriguing partnership if they were to stick it out. Atawo’s former partner, Abigail Spears, is teamed up with CoCo Vandeweghe to take the No. 3 spot in the draw. Miami Open champs Gabriela Dabrowski and Yifan Xu, the second seeds, are already out.
Besides Washington, the men are also playing in Los Cabos, Mexico. Andres Molteni and Adil Shamasdin, who won in Lyon a few months ago, the top seeds, dropped their opener. Doubles standouts Juan Sebastian Cabal and Treat Huey are the second seeds. Plus, there’s a reunion to be celebrated: Thai twins Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana are back together again. The two faced off against each other with different partners last week in Atlanta, with Sanchai coming out on top.
The men’s 2017 clay-court season comes to an end this week in Kitzbuhel, Austria, where the top seeds are the veterans Marcin Matkowski and Nenad Zimonjic.
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