New champions and breakthrough teams are making their marks in Asia. Here’s Doubles Take, your weekly look at the action.
CHAMPS IN CHENGDU
Barely getting into the draw, Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic and Nikola Cacic made the most of their opportunities at the Chengdu Open in China.
The duo defeated veterans Jonathan Erlich and Fabrice Martin for the title in one of the biggest surprise runs of the season. Cacic captured the first title of his career, while Lajovic added a second to go with the one he claimed back in 2015.
WONDROUS IN WUHAN
With three of the year’s four Grand Slam champions in the tournament, surely one of them would be coming away with the title at the Wuhan Open. And yes, the US Open winners Aryna Sabalenka and Elise Mertens did make it through to the final, as Sabalenka attempted to add the doubles title to her singles championship.
Yingying Duan and Veronika Kudermetova, though, had other plans.
After being tested in their first match, the eighth seeds won their next four in straight sets. Duan’s dream season continues: After reaching the final of the French Open this year with Saisai Zheng, she now has her first Premier 5 title. For Kudermetova, it’s the first title of her burgeoning career.
ALL THEY DO, IT SEEMS, IS WIN
Ever since they got a taste of success at the ATP Tour level after winning their first title at the Swedish Open, Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen have been hungry for more. The Belgians just reached their fourth final in three months in Zhuhai, China, and as they did on two of those occasions, they came away with the first-place trophies.
3rd ATP title of the season!! What a phenomenal week we have had @zhuhaichampionships !! Thanks for the amazing organisation, hospitality and facilities!! First ever tournament in China and definitely coming back next year #sandoran #champs #zhuhai #china #atp #doubles #theonlywayisup #careerhigh ——————————————— #jako #chinacure #acupunctuursampermans #mizuno #yonex #luxilon #jenasport #vitaminwell #blackroll #wilsontennisacademygenk
Seeded fourth at the tournament, Gille and Vliegen captured their first hard-court title, topping Marcelo Demoliner and Matwe Middelkoop in straight sets in the final.
THE PERFECT REBOUND
Just over a week ago, Hayley Carter and Luisa Stefani reached their first final together in Seoul, South Korea. They dropped that title match, but bounced back perfectly from that disappointment at the Tashkent Open.
Taking their first three matches in straight sets, the American-Brazilian pair rode that momentum into the final as they upended the third seeds, Dalila Jakupovic and Sabrina Santamaria, for the first title for each of them.
At the China Open in Beijing this week, both the men and women are competing at the ATP 500/WTA Premier Mandatory event. On the women’s side, three major upsets have happened already: Australian Open champions Shuai Zhang and Samantha Stosur have fallen to the Pliskova sisters, Karolina and Kristyna, while US Open winners Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka have been eliminated by Americans Sofia Kenin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Barbora Strycova and Su-Wei Hsieh, this year’s Wimbledon winners, lost to Jelena Ostapenko and Dayana Yastremska. French Open victors Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic are still in the mix.
On the men’s side, another Grand Slam-winning team is out: Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies, the French Open winners, fell to John Isner and Alexander Zverev. The team of the year, Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, have joined them on the sidelines with a straight-set loss to Jamie Murray and Neil Skupski.
At the other ATP 500 event this week, the Japan Open, world singles No. 1 Novak Dkokovic dipped his foot into the waters, but he and his partner Filip Krajinovic lost to fourth seeds Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares. US Open finalists Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos, the top seeds, dropped their opener to Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor, this year’s Monte Carlo Masters champions.
Follow Van on Twitter: @Van_Sias