Who gives you more doubles than @tennispig? Probably somebody somewhere, but I’m right’chere with the Daily Doubles Down-Low.
Doha: Take Early Notice of #PopStep
Of the new doubles teams in 2017, one has already caught the eye after a few days in Doha. Vasek Pospisil and Radek Stepanek have roared through two rounds of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open. #PopStep (patent pending @tennispig) eased past Paolo Lorenzi and Florian Mayer 6-3, 6-4 in their opener and took down Robin Haase and Philipp Petzschner 6-3, 6-3 on Wednesday. The wins put this week’s third seeds into the semifinals with second seeds Mate Pavic and Alexander Peya already done in their half of the draw. They could be on a collision course with top seeds Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares who survived a tense second rounder against David Marrero and Nenad Zimonjic 10-4 in the super breaker.
It’s certainly a good start for #PopStep as Pospisil moves on from his partnership with Jack Sock and Stepanek looks for the right fit after floating between Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic in 2016. Neither of those partnerships clicked with enough success for them to continue. It’s possible that a good run to start 2017 could see them mirror their potential finals opponents who bust onto the doubles scene in 2016 when Murray and Soares were surprise winners of the Australian Open. That came on the heels of Murray-Soares making the semis in Doha and then winning their first title together a week later in Sydney.
Brisbane: Kontinen-Peers Open With Loss
Last year’s ATP Tour Finals champions opened their 2017 campaign on the wrong foot in Brisbane. Henri Kontinen and John Peers were taken out in their opener against the mish mosh pairing of Kei Nishikori and Dominic Thiem, 12-10 in the super breaker. They didn’t particularly play poorly as they were broken just once, but they had few answers after the opening set for the Nishikori and Thiem serves. Matters were made worse with Nishikori and Thiem losing their next match to Gilles Muller and Sam Querrey. Brisbane also saw the team they beat in the Tour Finals bounced early. Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram were beaten routinely 6-2, 6-3 in round two by Aussies Sam Groth and Chris Guccione.
Top seeds Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert play later today for a spot in the semifinals as they take on Thanasi Kokkinakis and Jordan Thompson. The winner will battle Daniel Nestor and Eduoard Roger-Vasselin in the semis. Nestor-ERV survived Steve Johnson and Diego Schwartzman in a roller coaster second rounder, after beating Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau in round one.
Chennai: Duran-Molenti Strong Front Runners
With top seeds Jonathan Erlich and Scott Lipsky upset in round one, second seeds Guillermo Duran and Andres Molteni are looking to take advantage at the Aircel Chennai Open. Duran-Molteni have not dropped a set in taking out two solid duos in Wesley Koolhoff-Matwe Middelkoop and Johan Brunstrom and Andreas Siljestrom. Home standing Indian pair Purav Raja and Divij Sharan took down third seeds Andre Sa and Leander Paes in straight sets on Wednesday. Raja-Sharan still have to meet Jurgen Melzer and Renzo Olivo in round two for a spot opposite of Duran-Molenti, but look a good bet to do that in their home country.
In the top half where Erlich-Lipsky were erased, another Indian duo is looking to make some noise. Rohan Bopanna is teaming with Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan. They won their opener on Wednesday. Fourth seeds Nicholas Monroe and Artem Sitak look the obvious road blocks for them in that half of the draw. The fourth seeds face Steve Darcis and Benoit Paire in the next round.
Sydney: Doubles Heaven Next Week
It might be a tidbit that only interests The Pig, but peeking ahead to next week’s tournaments, the Apia Sydney International looks like hog heaven for doubles lovers. On the ladies side, the former SanTina will be in action with their new partners. Sania Mirza will pair up again with Barbora Strycova, while Martina Hingis reprises her late season partnership with Coco Vandeweghe. SanTina won three Grand Slams together before splitting last year amid a dip in results.
Since the split, the two have met once with their new partners in tow. That came last year in Cincinatti where Mirza-Strycova won 7-5, 6-4 en route to their first title together. As for the rest of the doubles field in Sydney, there are a few more solid teams behind the first two like the Chan sisters, Hao-Ching and Yung-Jan, as well as the pairing of Yaroslava Shvedova and Vania King. Mirza has won the doubles title in Sydney the past two years with Hingis in 2016 and Bethanie Mattek-Sands in 2015. She’s currently teaming with Mattek-Sands in Brisbane, where they are into the semifinals.
As a dual event, Sydney will also house the ATP World Tour next week and the dubs draw looks delish. Murray-Soares will come in as the top seeds. There is plenty of depth in the men’s draw with Spaniards Marc Lopez and Marcel Granollers teaming up for the week plus Marcelo Melo and Lukasz Kubot, Rojer-Tecau and Bopanna with his 2017 regular partner, Pablo Cuevas. You also have long-time partners Juan-Sebastien Cabal and Robert Farah hitting the courts here and Olivier Marach and Fabrice Martin reviving their 2016 partnership for the week.
I’ll be keeping an eye on another Spanish tandem with Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez teaming up. PCB impressed in both singles and doubles in 2016, winning his maiden doubles title in Quito with Guillermo Duran and then adding a second with Rafael Nadal in Shenzhen in the fall. In all, Carreno Busta made six ATP doubles finals. That included the U.S. Open with his Sydney partner.