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Doubles Take: Andrey Rublev showcases doubles prowess at Laver Cup
Doubles Take is back with a comprehensive look at all the action on the ATP & WTA tours.
Published Sep 28, 2021
In years past, the Laver Cup has featured pairings straight out of a fantasy tale, it seemed. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal—on the same side? Yep, it’s happened.
While this year’s event saw both of those all-timers miss the competition, teams Europe and World still featured some intriguing matchups on the doubles court. John Isner and Denis Shapovalov faced off against Alexander Zverev and Matteo Berrettini on the first day and won. Isner couldn’t keep the momentum going, though, as he and Nick Kyrgios fell to Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas the next day. Going into Sunday, Isner and Shapovalov’s point had been the only one picked up Team World as the Europeans dominated in singles.
Hopes for the squad in red were dashed by the boys in blue right off the bat that day, though, as doubles kicked off play. Rublev and Zverev battled past Shapovalov and Reilly Opelka in a match tiebreak to clinch the win for Team Europe, its fourth in a row.
Coming out on top at every other event you enter is not a bad pace. At all.
Zhang Shuai is currently operating at that clip. She and Samantha Stosur won two out of three tournaments, triumphing in Cincinnati and the US Open. After New York, Zhang reached the quarterfinals in Luxembourg with former world No. 1 Sania Mirza.
The duo bounced back in a big way, as they clinched the title at the tournament in Ostrava over the weekend. Battling through match tiebreaks in the first two rounds, the second seeds cruised from there, eventually defeating Kaitlyn Christian and Erin Routliffe in straight sets in the final. The win marks the first title together for Zhang and Mirza as Zhang’s outstanding run continues.
For Hubert Hurkacz, 2021 has truly been a breakout season. Going into the Moselle Open, the Pole had cracked the top 20 in the rankings; won two singles titles, one of which was his first Masters 1000 crown; and reached the semis at Wimbledon. What more could he accomplish with the season winding down?
Well, how about a singles-doubles sweep?
In Metz, Hurkacz captured his fourth career singles title without dropping a set. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, he also did the same in doubles with countryman Jan Zielinski. This was their first ATP Tour event together, but evidently, familiarity from some time on the Challenger Tour together and overall friendship paid off big at the end as they completed their run with a win over Hugo Nys and Arthur Rinderknech. It was Zielinski’s first doubles title and Hurkacz’s second after his Paris Masters victory last year with Felix Auger-Aliassime.
COMING OUT ON TOP
Playing together for the first time this year at the US Open, Santiago Gonzalez and Andres Molteni went on to reach the third round. From there, the Mexican-Argentine duo went on to Szczecin, Poland, and came in first at the clay-court Challenger.
With a solid 6-1 record under their belts, Gonzalez and Molteni added four more wins to their tally with a title-winning effort in Nur-Saltan, Kazakhstan. Seeded first, the pair battled through match tiebreaks in their first two contests, then only dropped seven games in their next two matches. Facing Jonathan Erlich and Andrei Vasilevski in the final, Gonzalez and Molteni won 6-1, 6-2, giving them their second and first titles of 2021, respectively.
It’s been a long time since main-tour tennis has been played this late in the United States after the last Grand Slam of the year. This week marks an end to the drought. The women have another tournament in Chicago with a star-studded lineup, led by Wimbledon winners Su-Wei Hsieh and Elise Mertens as the top seeds, followed by Ena Shibahara and Shuko Aoyama, five-time winners this year. The men are making a West Coast return with a tournament in San Diego, a new stop, where Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski, the top seeds, are through to the quarters already. The second seeds are Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, this year’s US Open finalists.
The other ATP tournament on the calendar is the Sofia Open in Bulgaria, where Henri Kontinen and Ben McLachlan sit atop the draw. Santiago Gonzalez and Andres Molteni, unseeded, will look to continue their winning ways there, as the pair is in the same section of the draw as Tomislav Brkic and Nikola Cacic, the second seeds. And it’s the women’s time to play in Nur-Saltan, Kazakhstan, this week, where top seeds Greet Minnen and Alison Van Uytvanck are trying to win their second title of the year. Anna Blinkova and Anna Danilina, the second seeds, have battled through to the quarterfinals already.