Just last year, Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor—along with Dominic Inglot—offered some tips on how to succeed in the fast-paced world of men’s doubles, showcasing their practice routines that have served them well over the course of their careers.
It’s somewhat fitting that Mirnyi and Nestor, two of the greatest doubles players to ever compete on the ATP would put the brakes on their playing days in the same season. After all, both of the former world No. 1s— sitting on the north side of 40—had achieved nearly every milestone the game could offer.
And for two years, they accomplished many of those feats together.
Starting in 2011, the veterans joined forces. Nestor was coming off his second successful longtime stint with a partner, having played with Nenad Zimonjic from 2008-2010. During their run together, the two won eight ATP Masters 1000 titles, three Grand Slams and two ATP Finals. Prior to joining forces with Zimonjic, the Canadian had nearly as much prosperity with Mark Knowles, reaching eight Grand Slam finals and winning three of them over 12 years.
Meanwhile, keeping pace with Nestor over this time was Mirnyi, as the Belarusian also experienced Masters and Grand Slam success, winning multiple titles in both categories, primarily with Mahesh Bhupathi and Jonas Bjorkman, his most recent partner before Nestor. Going back to 2003, Mirnyi even helped Roger Federer to the lone Masters doubles title of his career at the Miami Open.
Mirnyi and Nestor started 2011 off in Australia, reaching the semifinals in two of their first three events, including a run to the final four in Melbourne, where they fell to Bhupathi and Leander Paes. They struck gold for the first time in Memphis, and then reached their second final as a team in Miami.
It would be nearly three months before they advanced to another championship match, but when they did, they made it count.
Between the two of them, Mirnyi and Nestor had won four of the previous six French Open men’s doubles titles. Entering the 2011 edition as the second seeds, the duo won their first major together with the loss of only one set.
Surprisingly, Mirnyi and Nestor struggled through the rest of the summer, which included early-round losses at Wimbledon and the US Open. During the stretch leading to the year-end championships, they turned it on as they claimed their first Masters title together in Shanghai and reached two more finals.
Qualifying for their first ATP Finals together, Mirnyi and Nestor made it through group play unscathed, and then beat Bob and Mike Bryan in straight sets to land in the finals. There, they topped Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski to put the perfect cap on their first season together.
Their winning streak carried into 2012 as they triumphed in Brisbane. And the next few months followed a similar arc to the prior year as they defended their titles in Memphis and at the French Open.
After Paris, they made a smoother transition to grass than they did in 2011, as they claimed the crown at Queen’s Club. However, the pair suffered another early loss at Wimbledon and failed to replicate their second-half heroics of the prior year. Nestor did win in Basel with Zimonjic, but a year after going undefeated at the ATP Finals, the pair only won one match during the round-robin portion in 2012 and their time among the best teams was at an end.
Going their separate ways, Mirnyi teamed up with Horia Tecau to win three titles in 2013, while Nestor played with a range of partners, winning his only title of the year in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Paes.
In the years since their two-year campaign came to an end, the two continued to add to their legacies among the all-time greats by capturing multiple titles. But the 2012 French Open was the last men’s major for either of them.
Their impact won’t soon be forgotten as they leave a lasting impression on the men’s game, partially built through a two-year stretch that saw them reach the pinnacle of the sport together.
Follow Van on Twitter: @Van_Sias