The teams on the ATP and WTA tours are leaving behind the hard courts in Miami and gearing up for the clay-court stretch. Doubles Take looks at what’s happening on the slippery stuff, as well as the Miami results.
SLIDING INTO A NEW SCENE
This week, both tours kick off their respective clay-court swings with two events each. The biggest event between them is the Volvo Car Open in Charleston, S.C., as the long-running WTA clay-court event is making a return after last year’s cancellation. The top seeds are Nicole Melichar and Demi Schuurs, who are already through to the quarterfinals.
The second seeds are Timea Babos and Veronika Kudermetova, followed by Yifan Xu and Zhang Shuai. Last year’s French Open finalists, Alexa Guarachi and Desirae Krawczyk, are seeded fourth in Charleston and are already through to the quarters. At the other WTA event making its return this year, the Copa Colsanitas in Colombia, Arantxa Rus and Tamara Zidansek are the top seeds, followed by Arina rodionova and Rosalie van der Hoek.
The top seeds at both of the ATP stops already hit some rough patches on the clay. In Marbella, Spain, Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen were stopped before they could really get started by the home favorites David Marrero and Adrian Menendez-Maceiras. And in Cagliari, Italy, the veterans Marcelo Melo and Jean-Julien Roger fell to a local pairing, too: Andrea Vavassori and Lorenzo Sonego upset the top seeds in a match tie-break.
THE DREAM SEASON CONTINUES
By the time the women’s quarterfinals rolled around at the Miami Open, Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara were the highest-seeded team left in the tournament. Given their start to the year, the Japanese duo was considered the favorites for the title at that point.
However, it appeared that their run was going to end in the semifinals against Iga Swiatek and Bethanie Mattek-Sands. The fifth seeds had to rally from the brink of defeat to reach their third final of the season.
In the championship match, Aoyama and Shibahara topped Hayley Carter and Luisa Stefani, the eighth seeds, in straight sets for the biggest title of their respective careers.
Aoyama and Shibahara now have a tour-leading three titles in 2021 to their credit and have won six overall since October 2019.
A FANTASTIC FOURTH
On the men’s side in Miami, there were plenty of surprises, too, with five unseeded teams making it to the quarterfinals and one of them—Dan Evans and Neal Skupski—getting to the final.
The Englishmen’s run ended there, though, at the hands of the surest thing in tennis right now.
Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic, playing together for the first time this year, picked up their fourth title of 2021 at the tournament. That’s more than anyone in singles or doubles has won—on both tours—so far this year. The Croatians have also now won at the 250, 500 and 1000 levels, and given their past successes at the majors, should be a threat to add a Grand Slam in the months ahead.