As the ATP and WTA 2019 regular-season campaigns start winding down, Doubles Take is still here with a look at the latest in team play.
IT ALL STARTS NOW IN SHANGHAI
After successful partnerships with Oliver Marach and Jamie Murray, respectively, came to a close this year, Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares ended up together. The past few months have been a slow burn, with wins not coming at the pace either of them were accustomed to. But at the Shanghai Masters, things heated up quite nicely for the Croatian-Brazilian pair.
In their first final together, Pavic and Soares topped defending champions and second seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo for the title. On their way to victory, they also beat the top team in the world, Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, and didn’t drop a set all week.
WINNING IN LINZ
Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, two-time Grand Slam champions a year ago, started 2019 off slow, but picked up steam over the summer with their first title of the year in Canada. However, an injury to Krejcikova dented their US Open dreams before the tournament even began.
In Linz, Austria, the Czechs once again experienced the thrill of victory as they took home their second top prize of the year together.
In the final, they defeated the wild-card pairing of Barbara Haas and Xenia Noll for their fourth career title together. They also clinched their spot in the WTA year-end championship, making for a pretty good week on all counts.
TRIUMPHANT IN TIANJIN
With 19 career doubles finals on her ledger going into the Tianjin Open, Shuko Aoyama knows what it takes to contend for the top prize at the end of the week. Her partner for the tournament, Ena Shibahara, is still learning as she reached the first two finals of her career this year in Bogota and San Jose, the latter with Aoyama.
In China, Shibahara showed that she’s picked up a thing or two from her more-experienced teammate.
✔️First WTA Tour Title Thank you to my incredible partner @shuko.aoyama for leading me to my first title and huge congrats to her for winning her 10th Thanks to @tianjinopen for a very memorable tournament and for a great week Also, thank you to my family and friends for the continuous support and for believing in me I am so blessed to have you in my life #athlete #sports #professional #tennis #player #motivation #inspiration #yonex #life #wta #doubles #tianjinopen #tourlevel #選手 #プロ #テニス #柴原瑛菜 #スポーツ #ヨネックス #ダブルス
In an all-Japan final, Aoyama and Shibahara topped Nao Hibino and Miyu Kato for the Tianjin Open title. It’s the first for Shibahara, while Aoyama hit the double digits with her 10th.
It’s the last week of regular-season tournaments for the WTA and there are two events on tap. At the Luxembourg Open, the top seeds are Kristyna Pliskova and Renata Voracova, followed by Kaitlyn Christian and Alexa Guarachi. Lurking in the draw are the American teen sensations Cori Gauff and Caty McNally, who will be going for their second title of the year. The Kremlin Cup, held in Moscow, sees Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic atop the draw as they prepare for a title defense at the year-end championships.
The men are also in Moscow, but top seeds Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor had a much-shorter stay than hoped for as the Croats dropped their opener, hurting their shot at a spot in the ATP Finals field. Over in Antwerp, Belgium, French Open winners Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies are the top seeds as they try to get back on a consistent path after their surprise Roland Garros win.
Attempting to shore up their place in the Race to London standings, Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau are the headliners in Stockholm this week. Coming in hot are the second seeds, Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek, who’ve had a stellar second half of the year and are trying to qualify for the year-end event for the first time.
Follow Van on Twitter: @Van_Sias