As tournaments wind down this week in Estoril, Munich, Prague and Rabat, Doubles Take looks at the teams who’ve really been digging the dirt thus far.
Much has been mentioned about the parity in men’s and women’s singles this year, with Roger Federer and Petra Kvitova the only two to win more than one singles title.
Some of that has carried on to doubles for both tours, particularly during the current stretch on clay. A mix of stand-out runs and breakthrough performances has many a team eyeing the big prize—the French Open, which is only a few weeks away.
One thing’s for sure as the year’s second Grand Slam approaches: The defending champions won’t be there.
Pierre-Hugues Herbert is focusing on singles the next few months, leaving Nicolas Mahut looking for a new partner. He’s found Jurgen Melzer—who’s actually in the midst of a Herbert reversal by focusing on doubles—at a Challenger in Bordeaux.
Things were going OK until they had to withdraw halfway through their second-round match. Mahut is entered in Madrid with Herbert, and in Rome with Jeremy Chardy.
Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, last week’s champs in Barcelona, are at their most dangerous on clay and will definitely be among the front runners, as will the team they beat in that final, Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares.
Some players have gotten on big streaks the past few months with perhaps the best team on the dirt this year being Horacio Zeballos and Maximo Gonzalez. During the “Golden Swing”, Gonzalez had a Bryan-brothers-like run, reaching the final at all four events—two of them with Zeballos. Gonzalez and Guillermo Duran, his partner for the week in Estoril, dropped their quarterfinal match. The only seeded team to make it to the semis there, in fact, is Marcus Daniell and Wesley Koolhof, while no seeds made it to the final four at the ATP’s other stop this week in Munich.
With new teams to be crowned this week, the notion of depth on the ATP Tour has only intensified.
On the WTA Tour this year, the clay has been kind to multiple teams. At the first stop in Charleston, the veterans Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Alicja Rosolska got their partnership off to a perfect start with the title.
Just last week in Stuttgart, Groenefeld’s countrywomen Mona Barthel and Anna-Lena Friedsam delighted the home crowd with the title. Perhaps a sign of things to come, though, was the victory by Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic in Istanbul. Last year’s Australian Open champs know what it takes to prepare for a major.
With the finals set in both Prague and Rabat, those duos getting that far will look to keep pushing in the weeks ahead. If they keep playing like this, Rabat finalists Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and Sara Sorribes Tormo will be a tough out.
The Spaniards lost in the first round in Stuttgart, but with their final in Morocco join the ranks of the teams to beat during the clay-court season so far.
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