Before the Miami Open kicks off, Doubles Take looks at the latest results on the ATP and WTA tours.
MAKING ‘POWER’ MOVES
After winning their first two Grand Slam titles together and finishing as the top-ranked team on the ATP Tour in 2019, Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah experienced a rough follow-up campaign, going without a title together for the first time since 2013.
“Colombian Power” reached the final in their first tournament of 2021, but then went 1-2 over their next two events. The duo then advanced to the semifinals in Doha before entering the next tournament on the Middle Eastern swing in Dubai. There, the top seeds advanced to the final to take on the year’s hottest pair, Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic, who have already won three titles in their first season playing together. In two tiebreak sets, Cabal and Farah prevailed over the second-seeded Croats.
Cabal and Farah, one of the most successful partnerships on tour, won their 17th title together and first since the US Open back in that 2019 dream campaign.
THE STREAK CONTINUES
Going into 2021, Asia Muhammad had a perfect 5-0 record in doubles finals over the course of her career.
After the just-completed Monterrey Open, the American is now a perfect six-for six.
Teaming up with her countrywoman Caroline Dolehide, the duo won the title in straight sets over Heather Watson and Zheng Saisai in the final. The second seeds had to battle through to get to the championship round as they were forced to match tiebreaks in two of their first three matches. For Dolehide, it was her first final and title on the main tour, and it was a good thing to have someone familiar with those match conditions on her side.
VETERANS’ DAY IN ST. PETERSBURG
Teaming up at the recent tour stop in Dubai for the first time this year, Raluca Olaru and Nadiia Kichenok dropped a hard-fought quarterfinal match against two-time Grand Slam champions Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova. The Romanian-Ukrainian pair then carried the momentum from that run with them to St. Petersburg, Russia, where they were the top seeds. Playing through to their place in the draw, Olaru and Kichenok reached the final against the second seeds, Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria. After dropping the first set against the Americans, Olaru and Kichenok took the second, then won a tough match tiebreak to claim the top prize.
The No.1 seeds take the title ????— wta (@WTA) March 21, 2021
Nadiia Kichenok and @Raluca_Olaru are your 2021 @Formula_TX doubles champions!
Defeating the No.2 seeds Christian/Santamaria, 2-6, 6-3, [10-8]. pic.twitter.com/1PNofriMwq
For Olaru, it’s the tenth title of her career and first indoors since 2014, while Kichenok won her sixth tournament overall.
Before the 2021 season, Neal Skupski had been playing with his fellow Brit, Jamie Murray for more than a year. The duo had some solid moments but never experienced that big breakthrough. With Murray reuniting with his longtime partner, Bruno Soares, Skupski hooked back up with the player who probably knows his game better than anyone: his brother, Ken.
The Englishmen had reached eight finals together before this year, winning two of them. 2021 got off to a slow start as they went 2-3 in their first three events, but things turned around at the ATP 500-level tournament in Acapulco. The Skupskis were a two-man wrecking crew: In the quarters, they beat Murray and Soares, the second seeds, then followed that up with a straight-set win over their compatriot Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram, the fourth seeds, in the semifinals to reach their first final in nearly two years. Facing the top-seeded team of Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers, the Skupskis claimed the title with a straight-sets victory.
It’s the biggest career title for either of them and shows just how strong the family bond can be.