Given the depth of both doubles draws at this year’s Australian Open, it’s hard to say if there’s a clear-cut favorite for the men’s and women’s titles. With the first round nearly over, multiple seeds have fallen while others had to battle to survive.
On the men’s side, the highest-ranked team to not make it past the opening round was the No. 3 seeds, Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers. The 2019 US Open finalists were upset by the all-American team of Nicholas Monroe and Frances Tiafoe.
The 3rd seed is out @AustralianOpen courtesy of Nicholas Monroe/Frances Tiafoe who upset Marcel Granollers ????????/Horacio Zeballos ???????? 7-5, 6-4. The Americans now face Pospicil/Shapovalov ???????? in the 2nd Rd. pic.twitter.com/A2FQbmvjCu— UNC Men's Tennis ???????? (@carolinatennis) February 11, 2021
Monroe has been working overtime as a Tennis Channel reporter, interviewing Venus Williams, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Diego Schwartzman and Taifoe.
Nearly joining the Argentinean-Spanish team on the sidelines was none other than the top-seeded duo of Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal. “Colombian Power,” fresh off a final-round showing at one of the warm-up tournaments, dropped the opening set to Nikoloz Basilashvili and Andre Begemann in a tiebreak, rallied to win the next in another breaker, then clinched the match 6-4 in the third.
Farah and Cabal are joined in the next round by the team that stopped them over the weekend, the reunited Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, seeded sixth. Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, who have yet to lose this year and have already won two titles, are also through to the round of 32. Pavic has been in this position before: When he played with Oliver Marach back in 2018, that pair won two titles before the Australian Open then picked up their first major together.
Marach’s shot at a title this year is already over, however, as he and Robin Haase, the No. 13 seeds, fell in the first round, as did the No. 11, No. 12 and No. 14-seeded teams. It was My Tennis Life star Tennys Sandgren and recent TENNIS.com Podcast guest Dominik Koepfer who ousted the No. 14-seeded duo of Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, in a third set tie-break, no less.
On the women’s side, the defending champions Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos, decided not to play this year. That leaves Barbora Strycova and Su-Wei Hsieh, the team they topped in last year’s final, as the top seeds. The 2019 Wimbledon champs were pushed much harder in the first round than expected against the Australian wild-card team of Destanee Aiava and Astra Sharma, finally winning it 6-4 in the third.
Three teams in the top half of the draw lost their first-rounders, which includes the most high-profile exit in the women’s tournament so far: Latisha and Hao-Ching Chan, the No. 5 seeds who just reached a final over the weekend in their first event in nearly a year, dropped a tough three-setter to Giuliana Olmos and Sharon Fichman.
The bottom half of the draw is headlined by Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka, who had to battle through three sets to advance. The No. 2 seeds have an intriguing matchup next against Ashleigh Barty and Jennifer Brady, especially as all four are heavily in the mix for the singles title.
With two victories in two tournaments already in 2021, Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara are seeded No. 7 in Melbourne, but almost exited early, needing three sets to get out of the first round. Laura Siegemund and Vera Zvonareva, last year’s surprise US Open winners, had a much easier time, as the German-Russian duo breezed through their opening match.
The next round ahead promises more popcorn-worthy encounters, perhaps none more so than Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Gaby Dabrowski, the No. 6 seeds, taking on the teenage sensations “Team McCoco,” aka Caty McNally and Coco Gauff. The young Americans are already used to playing on the biggest stages and will surely be up for the challenge.