Doubles Take returns, ready to navigate the start of the 2021 season. Here’s a look at the just-completed first events on the ATP and WTA tours.
IT’S NOT THE CLOTHES THAT MAKE THE MAN
Jellyfish. Llamas. Unicorns. At the Delray Beach Open, Ariel Behar reached a whole new level as far as tennis fits go.
As noteworthy as his ensembles were, though, the Uruguayan veteran’s on-court play was even more impressive. In the first round, Behar and Gonzalo Escobar of Ecuador upset the top seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Marcelo Arevalo, then kept it going from there—all the way to the title.
There's nothing like your first ATP Tour title! ????????— ATP Tour (@atptour) January 13, 2021
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Behar and Escobar topped another unseeded pair, Ryan and Christian Harrison, for the crown, becoming the first South American team to win in tournament history. Behar and Escobar have been a steady force on the Challenger circuit for several years. Now, they’ve shown they’re ready to make inroads on the main tour—and look good while doing so.
THE PERFECT START
Ena Shibahara and Shuko Aoyama experienced near-instant success when they first teamed up back in 2019, capturing back-to-back titles at the end of the season, then won again early last year.
It looks like they’re ready for more in 2021.
The duo just won its fourth title in 15 months, defeating Hayley Carter and Luisa Stefani in the championship match in Abu Dhabi. After surviving their opener in a match tiebreak, Aoyama and Shibahara rolled from there, with their run including a straight sets win over top seeds Su-Wei Hsieh and Barbora Strycova in the semis.
FIRST TIME’S THE CHARM
Last year, Mate Pavic won his second career men’s major at the US Open, while his countryman Nikola Mektic—who lost to Pavic in the final in New York—closed out 2020 with the title at the ATP Finals.
Despite those achievements with their respective partners Bruno Soares and Wesley Koolhof, the Croats decided they would partner in 2021.
After their first tournament of the season, it’s hard to argue with the decision.
Mektic and Pavic, playing together for the first time, claimed the top prize in Antayla, Turkey, defeating another Croat, Ivan Dodig, and his partner, Filip Polasek, in the final. It’s the 18th carer victory for Pavic, while Mektic notched his ninth triumph. If Antayla is any indication, they should be able to significantly add to those numbers this year.