More clay and dramatic team competition: It’s all in this week’s Doubles Take.
Going into the first clay-court Masters event of the year, Nikola Mektic had already won two titles on the season, including the first ATP Masters 1000-level tournament of the year in Indian Wells. Franco Skugor also entered the tournament in fine form, fresh off a victory the week prior in Morocco with Jurgen Melzer.
With both of them playing at such a high level, good things were bound to happen when they teamed up.
The Croats topped the Dutch duo of Robin Haase and Wesley Koolhof in one of the matches of the year, splitting two tiebreak sets then winning the match decider 11-9—while fighting off a championship point in the process. For Mektic, it’s his third career ATP Masters title, while Skugor claimed his first.
DOWN TO THE WIRE
When you’re looking at team competitions, nothing beats the thrill of the outcome boiling down to one match to decide who moves on. Both ties in the Fed Cup semifinals delivered on that front.
France, behind the reunited team of Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia, rallied to top Romania’s Simona Halep and Monica Niculescu.
The winning moment ????????@KikiMladenovic and @CaroGarcia seal victory over Halep and Niculescu, and France are through to their 6th #FedCup final— Fed Cup (@FedCup) April 21, 2019
What. A. Tie. ????????????#FRAROU pic.twitter.com/I0vicjZfip
Australia, led by Ashleigh Barty and Samantha Stosur, knocked off Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka in three sets, only hours after all four had been on the court for reverse-singles duty.
Both countries have experienced a title drought in the event, with France’s last coming in 2003 and Australia’s decades longer: The nation’s most recent victory was in 1971.
There are two tournaments on the schedule for both tours this week. The main event for the women is the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, the indoor clay event in Stuttgart. The top seeds are Nicole Melichar and Kveta Peschke, followed by Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Demi Schuurs. The No. 3-seeded duo of Makoto Ninomiya and Abigail Spears dropped their opener, while the No. 3 seeds Raquel Atawo and Katarina Srebotnik are through to the quarterfinals. Atawo is the two-time defending champion, having won in 2017 with Jelena Ostapenko and last year with Groenefeld.
The other WTA stop is in Istanbul where Timea Babos and Mladenovic—last year’s Australian Open and WTA Finals champs—are the top seeds. Johanna Larsson and Kirsten Flipkens, the second seeds, will be trying to reach their seventh career final together and second this year.
For the men, the ATP 500-level event in Barcelona will see many of the world’s best teams in action, with the draw led by Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, followed by Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares. Monte Carlo champs Mektic and Skugor are in the tournament, as well, but unseeded, putting them among a dangerous group of floaters such as Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau, and Maximo Gonzalez and Horacio Zeballos.
In Budapest, Skugor’s former partner Dominic Inglot makes up half of the top-seeded team with Rohan Bopanna. Santiago Gonzalez, who won in Houston a few weeks ago, and Matwe Middelkoop, who’s reached three finals already this year, are the second seeds.
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