Doubles Take swings through North America with a look back and a glimpse of what’s ahead for the ATP and WTA Tours.
RECAPTURING THAT WINNING FEELING
After breaking out with two Grand Slam titles in 2018, it was expected that more success in 2019 would be a given for Katerina Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova. However, that hadn’t been the case: The young Czechs only reached one final together through July.
Coming off a semifinal finish at Wimbledon, where they were the defending champions, the duo kicked off their hard-court campaign in Toronto, where, after a bye in the first round and a walkover in the second, they stood only three matches away from the title. An easier-than-expected quarterfinal and a tough semifinal battle put them in the championship round against Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Demi Schuurs.
The Czechs didn’t let the chance for another title slip them by as they defeated Schuurs, the defending champion, and Groenefeld in straight sets. It’s their first hard-court title together and sets them up nicely for a run at the US Open, which is only a few weeks away.
MASTERFUL IN MONTREAL
Amid all the surprise pairings, comebacks and unexpected splits this year in doubles on the ATP Tour, the play of Horacio Zeballos has been one of the constants.
The veteran Argentine, who had his Masters breakthrough earlier in the year with Nikola Mektic in Indian Wells, just added a second ATP Masters 1000-level title to his resume in Montreal with Marcel Granollers of Spain.
In a tournament hit with upsets from the start, Zeballos and Granollers—teaming up for the first time in their careers—beat Robin Haase and Wesley Koolhof in straight sets in the final in a battle of unseeded teams. It’s Granollers’ second title of 2019 and the third out of six finals for Zeballos, who was playing in Canada for the first time. Obviously, the vibes are right for him there: With the win, he also became the first man from Argentina to crack the top 10 in doubles.
Cincinnati represents the last major warm-up for both tours this week before the year’s final Slam, the US Open. On the men’s side, there’s a number of intriguing opening-round contests, like the Washington first-round rematch between top seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah and Stefanos Tsitsipas/Nick Kyrgios. No. 2 seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo opened up play against none other than Novak Djokovic and Janko Tipsarevic, and advanced handily, 6-2, 6-3.
Perhaps the biggest news on the men’s side, though, is the reunion of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut. The Frenchmen, who completed the career Grand Slam in Melbourne to start the year, spent the bulk of the clay-court stretch and all of the grass-court season apart as Herbert reportedly wanted to focus on singles. (Mahut did well for himself during the split, reaching the Wimbledon doubles final with Edouard Roger-Vasselin.) The plan was to reunite in Cincy, and here they are, already through to the second round after a tough battle against Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor in their opener. Cincy’s a good spot for them to reunite: they won the tournament in 2017.
For the women, the top seeds are Su-Wei Hsieh and Barbora Strycova, this year’s Wimbledon champions who’ll be going for their fifth title of 2019 together. Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka, who captured the Indian Wells-Miami “Sunshine Double” earlier in the season, are the No. 2 seeds, followed by Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova.
A peek a little further down among the seeded teams reveals a must-see first-rounder: Hao-Ching and Latisha Chan, the No. 6 seeds, square off against Bethanie Mattek-Sands and CoCo Vandeweghe. The Americans, who won in Indian Wells a few years ago, are both on the comeback trail and will look to build up some momentum on arguably their best surface.
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