One of the game's all-time greats returns to action, plus a look at this week's events: It's all here in Doubles Take.
SERENA, CLINCHERS & THRILLERS
The opening round of Fed Cup didn’t disappoint—especially when it came to the doubles.
In the U.S.-Netherlands tie, Serena Williams played her first official event in more than a year, competing with her sister Venus Williams against Dutch doubles star Demi Schuurs and Lesley Kerkhove.
The rubber—which the siblings dropped—didn’t have any impact on the outcome of the tie as Venus clinched it with her second singles win. It was a good opportunity, though, for Serena to start her comeback under match conditions.
As far as doubles results that did determine who would advance, Kristina Mladenovic and Amandine Hesse of France beat Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens and Elise Mertens in three sets to clinch their tie. It was the third point Mladenovic had a hand in as she won both her singles rubbers.
Belarus, last year’s surprise finalists, dropped the deciding doubles rubber to Germany, as Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Tatjana Maria rallied to beat Lidziya Marozava and Aryna Sabalenka.
Matwe Middelkoop and Robin Haase of the Netherlands are proving to be quite the team this year. The duo won its second title of 2018 at the Sofia Open over Alexander Peya and Nikola Mektic.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Venus and Serena aren’t the only set of siblings to make headlines in doubles the past few days. Brothers Ken Skupski and Neal Skupski won their first title on the main tour together, taking the title in Montpellier, France, over Ben Mclachlan and Hugo Nys.
They entered the tournament on a high note, having won an ATP Challenger in Quimper, France, the weak prior. They won’t get to make it three wins in three weeks, however: Neal is teaming up with Daniel Nestor in New York this week, while Ken and Antonio Sancic are the top seeds at the ATP Challenger in Cherbourg.
KICKING UP THE DUST
The first ATP tournament of the year on clay, the Ecuador Open, saw an unlikely final. There were only two career runner-up doubles finishes between the four players that took the court. With a first title on the line for everyone, it was Nicolas Jarry and Hans Podlipnik-Castillo that emerged as champions with a straight-sets win over Austin Krajicek and Jackson Winthrow.
The WTA returns to tournament action at the Qatar Open in Doha, where the top-seeded team is Australian Open finalists Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina. The loaded draw sees new team Latisha Chan and Andrea Hlavackova in the No. 2 spot, followed by Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova, and Aussie Open champs Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic.
There are three events on the ATP calendar, with the deepest draw in Rotterdam, the first ATP 500-level event of the year. Top seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo have already advanced to the next round, as have the second seeded “Unbeatables,” Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic, and fourth seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau.
At the New York Open, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan are the top seeds, followed by Max Mirnyi and Philipp Oswald. At the Argentina Open on clay, top seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah are going for the three-peat. Santiago Gonzalez and Julio Peralta are seeded second.
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