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Doubles Take: Siniakova and Ostapenko triumph in Russia and more
Doubles Take is here with a look at the latest in team play on the ATP and WTA tours.
Published Oct 26, 2021
FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE
Both tours convened at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow last week, and the final outcomes could have scarcely been more different.
The women’s WTA 500-level event saw the second seeds, Jelena Ostapenko and Katerina Siniakova come away with the indoor title. Playing together for the first time in two years, the Latvian-Czech duo had to battle from start to finish, even fighting off three match points in the quarterfinals. Ostapenko and Siniakova beat Nadiia Kichenok and Raluca Olaru in a match tiebreak in the final, giving the winners their fifth and first titles of the year, respectively.
On the men’s side, upsets were the order of the day from the first ball: The top three seeds all fell in the first round. Tomislav Brkic and Nikola Cacic, the fourth seeds, did survive to reach their fourth final of 2021 and first on a surface other than clay. They were in prime position to win the title against the unseeded pair of Matwe Middelkoop and Harri Heliovaara, earning three championship points in the match tiebreak. However, Middelkoop and Heliovaara fought them all off and rallied to win their first title together.
REIGN IN SPAIN
Heading into the new WTA tournament in Tenerife, Spain, Ellen Perez and Ulrikke Eikeri had each been experiencing a noteworthy season. Perez reached three finals on as many surfaces in the first half of the year, while Eikeri made her first career WTA-level championship appearance in July.
Teaming up in Tenerife, the Australian-Norwegian pair battled through match tiebreaks in their first three contests to advance to the final. There, the fourth seeds defeated Lyudmyla Kichenok and Marta Kostyuk, the third seeds, in straight sets. With the win, Eikeri reached a career-high of No. 61 in the doubles standings, while Perez is now No. 42, only two spots behind her personal best, reached a little more than a year ago.
A NEW FRENCH CONNECTION
Frenchman Nicolas Mahut has been one of the best doubles players of his generation for years now. His countryman, Fabrice Martin, has been coming into his own the past several seasons, reaching the French and Italian Open finals in 2020.
Joining forces at the European Open in Antwerp, Belgium, the pair reached their first final together, without dropping a set. As well as they played over the course of the week, Mahut and Martin took their games to a whole new level in the championship match against Wesley Koolhof and Jean-Julien Rojer. The second seeds routed the Dutch duo, 6-0, 6-1, giving Martin his first title of 2021, while Mahut captured his third of the year.
It was a good week for both teams, but perhaps the surprise of the tournament was the semifinal run by Lloyd Harris—one of the ATP’s breakout performers in singles this year—and his coach, 2004 French Open doubles champion Xavier Malisse. One of Belgium’s best-ever men’s players, Malisse helped Harris upset Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo, the top seeds, in the opening round.
There are two new stops on the WTA calendar this week. At the Transylvania Open, there’s already been a huge upset as Kaitlyn Christian and Erin Routliffe, the top seeds and runners-up a few weeks ago in Ostrava, were bounced in the first round. Alexandra Krunic and Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove, the second seeds, are through to the quarters, while Tenerife finalists Lyudmyla Kichenok and Marta Kostyuk lurk among the unseeded teams in the draw.
The other tournament this week, the Courmayeur Ladies Open in Italy, sees Marie Bouzkova and Lucie Hradecka headline a strong field. Kremlin Cup finalists Kichenok and Olaru are the second seeds, followed by Eri Hozumi and Zhang Shuai.
For the men, it’s an opposite scenario with two long-running indoor events taking place. Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares are the top seeds at the St. Petersburg Open and have already advanced to the quarterfinals. They won’t be joined by Ben McLachlan and Raven Klaasen, the second seeds, who lost in the opening round for the second week in a row. The field at the 500-level event in Vienna, Austria, is led by Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, who had come down to earth of late after dominating much of the year. The Croats won their opener in their quest for a 10th title of 2021. US Open champs Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury are the No. 2 seeds. The American-English duo are quite familiar with the tournament, having won the event back in 2019.