A daily look at all that is doubles on the ATP and WTA tours. Thursday’s big buzz centers on the men’s final, which is now set after a dominant performance from the only seeded team left in the tournament. Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares defeated Adrian Mannarino and Lucas Pouille in straight sets to secure their spot in the final. The 7th seeds dispatched of Mannarino-Pouille 6-3, 6-1 in just 58 minutes to advance to the men’s final.
Murray-Soares Continue Impressive New Partnership
A lot of questions were asked of Jamie Murray after he and former partner John Peers decided to part ways after 2015. The pair had made two Grand Slam finals after all. A few short months later, it appears that change has not changed much for the 29-year-old from Dunblane. Jamie Murray and current partner Bruno Soares are headed to the men’s doubles final in Melbourne after whipping Frenchmen Adrian Mannarino and Lucas Pouille in the semifinals, their 11th win this season in 12 matches as new doubles partners. The French duo had been dangerous the entire tournament in knocking out three straight seeded teams, including the 2015 defending Australian Open champions Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini. Murray-Soares would have none of that on Thursday.
The opening set stayed on course over the first four games with both teams holding serve. It was the fifth game where Murray-Soares piled pressure on the French as they broke through on their second break chance. It would be all they needed as they closed out the set on serve at 6-3. Murray and Soares were both controlling points with solid first serves as the 7th seeds won 15 of 18 first serve points. They took every advantage of Mannarino-Pouille when the Frenchmen had to go to second serve, winning five big points out of seven chances.
The second set was a brutal one for the French pair. They opened on serve and were quickly broken as all of their mojo seemed to be quickly leaving the court at Rod Laver Arena. They would lose three of their four service games in the set as it all unraveled for a 6-1 victory for Murray-Soares that handed them the match. The 7th seeds won 15 of the 24 points played off the French serves, while winning 12 of 16 points on their own serves. Murray-Soares would make just a single unforced error in the set and take advantage of seven from Mannarino-Pouille. With the win, Jamie Murray is into his third Grand Slam final in the last six months. Murray teamed with Peers in 2015 to get to the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals. For Soares, this is his second Grand Slam doubles final. He teamed with Alexander Peya in 2013 to make the U.S. Open final. Neither player has won a slam title in those previous matches.
Murray said in an interview following the match that he feels this time could be different, “It took me a long time to understand what it took to win, and to perform at optimum level every time you step on the court.I’ve been lucky, I had a great partner for the last few years in John Peers and am now starting a new journey with Bruno here. It’s been a great two weeks for us and hopefully with one more match we can get over the final hurdle.”
Nestor-Stepanek Turn Back The Clock
When Daniel Nestor and Radek Stepanek decided to team up for the Australian Open, neither could have expected the path they have taken. As an unseeded team, the 43-year-old Nestor and 37-year-old Stepanek have been a revelation over the past week. Nestor-Stepanek have stunned the 10th, 14th and 16th seeds along the way to their improbable spot in the men’s doubles final. It culminated with a 7-6 (11), 6-4 win over 16th seeds Pablo Cuevas and Marcel Granollers in the semifinals. The opening set was a thriller after the teams exchanged breaks of serve in the third and fourth games, everything would stay on serve to a tiebreak.
Cuevas-Granollers would run out to a 3-1 lead, but Nestor-Stepanek had rallied to get back on serve by the first changeover at 3-3. The 16th seeded Uruguay-Spain combo would edge out to a 6-4 lead and see their first set point on serve, but were denied by Nestor-Stepanek. The breaker was even again at the second changeover at 6-6. Nestor-Stepanek would see two set points and Cuevas-Granollers one by the third changeover, but it remained deadlocked at 9-9. Finally, after Cuevas-Granollers dropped serve to trail 12-11, the unseeded veternans would pounce to close out a wild breaker 13-11. The telling stat in the set was second serve. Nestor-Stepanek were able to win half of their 20 points, while the 16th seeds lost 13 of 17 points.
The second set was done and dusted in game one as Cuevas-Granollers’ level dipped slightly and they were broken to open the proceedings. After facing a break point in the next game, Nestor and Stepanek settled in with a hold and would not look back. The teams would exchange service holds through the end of the match with Nestor serving his team into the final as he helped close the second set at 6-4. Nestor said in comments with opencourt.ca following the match that the tiebreak was a huge momentum swing, “We were fortunate to win the first set; they had us up a break early in the match and also a mini-break in the tiebreaker and we fought hard. That was key, that first set, because it was so close. We got up early right away in the second set, where it could have been the exact opposite.”
As for the final against Murray and Soares, the Canadian said that Jamie Murray is going to be the danger man. “They’re a very difficult team; we understand that and know that,” said Nestor. “I think there have been times in (Murray’s) career when he was younger that he didn’t serve as well. Now he serves well, He’s very consistent with his serve. He’s always been one of the best net players and he’s returning great, too.”
Mirza-Dodig Earn Mixed Doubles Semifinal Spot
In a delayed quarterfinal, top seeds Sania Mirza and Ivan Dodig booked the fourth and final semifinal spot in the mixed doubles draw on Thursday. Mirza-Dodig upended last year’s champions, Leander Paes and Martina Hingis 7-6 (1), 6-3. Mirza-Dodig fought from an early break down in the opener set and then roared through the tiebreak to take the lead. They would win just one point more than their opponents in that set, 38 to 37. In the second, the top seeds broke early and were not troubled again. They did not face a single break point in winning the second set. The win gets Mirza into her fourth Grand Slam mixed doubles semifinal. The last three times she has progressed that far, she went on to win the title. Those came at the Australian Open in 2009, French Open in 2012 and U.S. Open in 2014. This is Dodig’s first mixed doubles semifinal. They play 5th seeds Elena Vesnina and Bruno Soares next.
Australian Open: Day 12 Schedule
Thursday’s slate of matches in Melbourne is doubles heavy. At Rod Laver Arena, the day starts with the first mixed double semifinal between the team of Andreja Klepac and Treat Huey against Coco Vandeweghe and Horia Tecau. The Mirza-Dodig vs Vesnina-Soares semifinal is slated to be the final match of the day on Show Court 3. The women’s doubles final will also take place Thursday. It follows the first mixed double semifinal at Rod Laver with top seeds Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis battling 7th seeds Lucia Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova. Hingis-Mirza won their last meeting with Hradecka-Hlavackova 6-3, 6-4 at last year’s WTA Finals.