The men’s first Masters event of the year on clay is winding down. Here’s Doubles Take, with a look at the quarterfinals in Monte Carlo.
SLAM CHAMPS, UNSEEDED DUOS RACE TOWARD THE TITLE
Heading into the week, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut—last year’s French Open champions—were seeking their second Monte Carlo title in four years.
That goal quickly fell by the wayside as the 2016 champs were upset by Robin Haase and Wesley Koolhof in the first round.
The top seeds weren’t alone in seeing their title hopes dashed as five of the top eight teams fell early at the tournament. The No. 2 seeds, Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, lost on Friday to the seventh seeds, Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor, meaning the No. 3-seeded pairing of Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares are now the highest seeds remaining.
Two-time Slam champs Murray and Soares have been in survival mode all tournament, scratching out back-to-back match tiebreak wins.
They secured their first straight-set win of the tournament over Diego Schwartzman and Joao Sousa on Friday. Players known mostly for their singles games have made a big impact on the draw this year. Radu Albot and Nikoloz Basilashvili, as well as Schwartzman and Sousa, all reached the quarterfinals.
There was more quarterfinal meant to be played on Friday, involving Novak Djokovic's conqueror, Daniil Medvedev. Medvedev and Marcelo Demoliner made a deep run, which is particularly surprising as Medvedev hasn’t had much measurable success on the doubles court in his young career.
Soon after Medvedev's upset of Djokovic, Medvedev and Demoliner withdrew from the doubles draw, giving unseeded Horacio Zeballos and Maximo Gonzalez a pass into the semifinals.
Zeballos and Gonzalez have both had their strongest seasons—together and apart. Zeballos has won two tournaments on the season, with one of them just coming with Mektic at Indian Wells, while Gonzalez was dominant during this year’s “Golden Swing.” The Argentine won three out of the four tournaments with as many different partners, including Buenos Aires with Zeballos.
They'll play Mektic and Skugor on Saturday, while Murray and Soares take on Haase and Koolhof. Will the seeds be able to hold off their less-heralded foes? From what’s gone on so far this week, it could be anybody’s tournament.
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