Krejcikova and Siniakova during the 2021 Olympics

Krejcikova and Siniakova Shine

Change is something of a constant in tour-level doubles, with players often seeking out new partners when momentum stalls. Often, it’s the teams that stick together that raise the bar for others and right now on the WTA, that spot belongs to Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, who added to their growing legacy in 2021.

The Czech duo started the year with a successful Australian swing, which included a final-round showing in Melbourne. After picking up their second title of the year on clay in Madrid, Krejcikova and Siniakova broke their major drought at Roland Garros, where they only dropped one set. Their dream summer continued at the Tokyo Olympics, where they stood atop the podium with a gold medal.

Seeking a Major Breakthrough in ‘22

If there’s a team that perfectly embodies the combination of youth and experience, it’s Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara: Right around the time the California-born Shibahara was winning the US Open girls’ doubles title in 2016, Aoyama was capturing her sixth career title on the pro tour.

Partners since 2019, the Japanese pair has been nothing short of prolific. They started 2021 on a 12-match winning streak; after it ended, they won the biggest tournament of their respective careers in Miami. Going into ‘22, the priority will be to make a title-winning run at a Grand Slam. Aoyama and Shibahara have reached the quarterfinals in Melbourne and Paris, and their first semifinal together last year at Wimbledon. Getting past that last hurdle would truly rank them among the best pairs of their generation.

Mertens and Sabalenka win 2021 Aussie Open

Mertens and Sabalenka win 2021 Aussie Open


Will The Singles Call Be Too Strong?

Krejcikova has been a mainstay in the doubles Top 20 for the past several years, along with now-occasional partners Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka. All three are also considered among the next wave of stars in singles. As these players, along with up-and-comer Coco Gauff, try to further establish themselves on the singles court, will the doubles standings see another major upheaval?

Throughout the history of the women’s game, multiple players have found a spot at or near the top in both disciplines. But that was in a much different era, and as the depth of competition and level of play intensifies in singles, it might be the doubles game that begins to see a dramatic shift. Before she ascended to the top of the singles rank- ings, Ashleigh Barty’s doubles success overshadowed what she did in singles, peaking at No. 5 in the world in 2018. Now she’s ranked outside of the Top 100 in doubles. Will more of her “dual-threat” peers join her there?

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic 

An M(ektic)VP(avic) Season

Shortly after facing off against each other in the 2020 US Open final with their respective partners, Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic announced that they would be teaming up in 2021. Any notion of uncertainty was immediately dispelled as the duo recorded one of the best campaigns of the millennium. Pavic and Mektic won three of their first four tournaments together, with the only loss coming in the semifinals of the Australian Open. After that run, the duo dominated at the Masters level before breaking through at Wimbledon for their first Grand Slam title together, then topped the medal stand at the Summer Olympics.

Mektic and Pavic couldn’t maintain their torrid pace, but after such a brilliant run—one that saw them challenging historical benchmarks—they deserve to be hailed as the best team heading into 2022.


Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah

Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah

A Return to ‘Power’ in ’22?

Having reached dozens of finals together over the years, Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah were often overshadowed in 2021 by Mektic and Pavic, as well as the hard-charging Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury. If the results posted by the duo after a disappointing 2020 are any indication, though, “Colombian Power,” as the team is colloquially known, could be ready to re-establish itself as a major contender.

Last year, Cabal and Farah won multiple tournaments at the ATP 500 level under a range of different playing conditions, a testament to their underrated versatility. The pair won its first two Grand Slams at Wimbledon and at the US Open in 2019. With their confidence buoyed after a strong finish to the year, 2022 could see the pair make inroads on their quest of completing the career Grand Slam.

Where Have You Gone, Bob and Mike?

Despite their retirement in 2020, Bob and Mike Bryan still were ranked among the Top 100 players in the world toward the end of 2021. Of course, the future Hall of Famers won’t have a permanent spot on the rankings list, and when they do fall off, a huge (if symbolic) void will be left. Will someone among their U.S. compatriots be able to pick up the torch?

Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek were the only Americans to finish 2021 in the Top 50. Both have been playing the best tennis of their careers. A quartet of American singles stars—Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, Reilly Opelka and Tommy Paul—have all spent time on the court with the veteran Nick Monroe, experiencing varying degrees of suc- cess. Still, making their way to the Top 100 in doubles isn’t a priority for that particular group.

It will be up to Ram, Krajicek and others focusing solely on the discipline currently battling it out on the Challenger tour to try and meet the standards established by the Bryans