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Doubles Take: Local ATP stars stand out
The WTA gets back in the swing of things with its first indoor event of the year. Doubles Take is here with a look at it all.
Published Feb 08, 2022
HOMETOWN HEROES, PART 1
The last we saw Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert on court together at an ATP tournament, the French duo was capturing the title at the 2021 year-end championships to wrap up another strong campaign.
With Herbert choosing to miss the Australian summer, the pair made its 2022 debut last week at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier. Seeded first, Mahut and Herbert won their first two matches with ease, then were pushed to a match tiebreak in the semis. In the finals, they’d have to dig deep again, fighting off a match point against the unseeded team of Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara as they clinched their first tournament win of the year.
Herbert and Mahut won their 21st team title together, and after Grand Slam and Masters titles on home soil, recorded their first tournament triumph at the 250 level in France.
HOMETOWN HEROES, PART 2
Snapping a two-year title drought at the beginning of the year in Adelaide, veteran doubles standout Rohan Bopanna showed he has plenty in the tank at 41.
And when he’s teaming up with his countryman Ramkumar Ramanathan, he’s been flat-out unbeatable.
The Indian duo won their second title of the year after Adelaide in front of their home crowd in Pune, beating the top-seeded Aussie team of John-Patrick Smith and Luke Saville in the final. It wasn’t an easy run for the second seeds as they were forced to deciding tiebreaks in three of their four matches. In the final, they dropped the opening set for the first time all week, but as they consistently showed throughout the tournament, they were more than up for the battle.
Bopanna won his 21st career doubles title, and for the first time since 2017, has won two titles in a year. Ramanathan, meanwhile, claimed his second career victory.
AND ONE MORE HOMETOWN HERO, FOR GOOD MEASURE
Teaming up at the US Open last year, Santiago Gonzalez and Andres Molteni kicked off their partnership with a run to the third round. Showing that was no fluke, the Mexican-Argentine pair would close out 2021 with three titles between the Challenger and ATP levels.
In Australia this year, though, they got off to a slow start, with a 1-2 record over two events. Turning to the clay in Cordoba, Argentina, for the start of the “Golden Swing” through Latin America, Molteni and Gonzalez almost got bounced out of the first round. The top seeds survived another battle in the quarterfinals before notching a straight-set win in the semis against Argentine doubles standouts Guillermo Duran and Maximo Gonzalez.
In the final, Gonzalez and Molteni faced Andrej Martin and Tristan-Samuel Weissborn, who were in the midst of a dream run after getting into the main draw as alternates. Martin and Weissborn were each playing the first ATP finals of their careers, and fought gamely, but in the end, the more experienced team of Molteni and Gonzalez came through. Molteni won his third career title in his home country and second in Cordoba, out of nine overall, while Gonzalez notched his 17th tournament-winning run.
The WTA returns to action this week with the St. Petersburg Ladies Open in Russia, where Nadiia Kichenok and Raluca Olaru are the defending champions. Nadiia isn’t playing this year, but there has been a Kichenok-Olaru reunion of sorts: Olaru and Sorana Cirstea upset Lyudmyla Kichenok and Jelena Ostapenko, the second seeds, in the first round. Australian Open semifinalists Veronika Kudermetova and Elise Mertens sit atop the draw at the indoor event.
For the men, a new tournament is taking place this week, the Dallas Open, marking the first ATP Tour-level event on US soil this year. The top seeds at the indoor event are Jean-Julien Rojer and Marcelo Arevalo, followed by Hugo Nys and Austin Krajicek. Aside from Krajicek, plenty of other Americans will be in action, including Jack Sock, making his tour-level debut this year as he partners with John Isner. Also, the “Golden Swing” continues, with a stop this week in Buenos Aires. The top seeds are Simone Bolelli and Maximo Gonzalez, the Italian-Argentine duo that won three out of four clay-court finals in 2021. The draw is loaded with duos that can really shine on the dirt: For example, Santiago Gonzalez and Andres Molteni, last week’s champs in Cordoba, face off against the up-and-coming Brazilians Rafael Matos and Felipe Meligeni Alves, in a first-round battle of unseeded teams.
The long-running indoor tournament in Rotterdam is also happening. Defending champions Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic are back at this year’s edition as they try to put an end to their months-long slump. Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo are the second seeds, followed by Nicolas Mahut and Fabrice Martin. The fourth seeds are Dutchman Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski of England, arguably the team to beat in 2022. In search of their third title already of the year, the duo battled to a match tiebreak win in their opener against Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev.