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Doubles Take: ATP Cup, Melbourne and Adelaide
The first major of the season is on the horizon and the action is heating up Down Under.
Published Jan 11, 2022
The pros on the WTA and ATP tours are back on court for 2022. Doubles Take looks at the action leading up to the Australian Open.
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
Canada has been knocking on the door at the international team events on the men’s side for the past few years now.
At the just-completed ATP Cup, the squad kicked it open in a major way.
Led by Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov, the nation won its first men’s team competition, beating Spain in the final. Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov each picked up some huge wins in singles, while also showing they could be a force on the doubles court. After dropping their first rubber against the U.S., they bounced back with a win over Grand Slam champions Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain. Maybe even more impressive was their semifinal win over Russia, when the young Canadians clinched the tie with a match tiebreak win over Daniil Medvedev and Roman Safiullin.
Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov didn’t have to play doubles in the final against Spain after sweeping the two singles contests. Given their performances over the week, though, they definitely would have been up to the task.
QUEEN OF THE SWEEP
There’s starting off a season strong and there’s doing what Ashleigh Barty just accomplished at the Adelaide International 1 tournament.
The world No. 1, playing her first tournament since last year’s US Open, dropped only one set on her way to the singles title. And she was equally impressive on the doubles side: Teaming up with her compatriot Storm Sanders, the duo defeated Darija Jurak Schreiber and Andreja Klepac, the third seeds, for the victory. It’s the third doubles title of Sanders’ career, while Barty earned her third singles-doubles sweep, having accomplished the feat in Malaysia in 2017 and Stuttgart last year.
A LONG TIME COMING
On the men’s side at Adelaide International 1, Rohan Bopanna and Ramkumar Ramanathan claimed their first title together by beating the top seeds Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo in the final. It was a milestone achievement for the Indian pair: Ramanathan won his first ATP Tour-level event, while Bopanna—one of the most accomplished doubles players of his generation—claimed his 20th victory.
Bopanna is coming off only the second season since 2005 where he didn’t reach at least one final. The 41-year-old has gotten that out of the way with his first title in two years.
Seeded second at the women’s edition of the Melbourne Summer Set 1 tournament, good friends Asia Muhammad and Jessica Pegula cruised through their first two matches, then were pushed to a match tiebreak in the semis.
After coming through that one, the Americans faced Sara Errani and Jasmine Paolini in the championship match. It was Pegula’s first doubles final and only Paolini’s second. Errani, a former world No. 1, was playing her first final in four years. Meanwhile, Muhammad had never lost a doubles championship match in her career—and she left the tournament still able to make that claim.
Pegula and Muhammad topped the Italians 6-3, 6-1 for the title. With the win, Muhammad runs her record to 7-0 in doubles finals.
A WINNING COMBINATION
The past couple of years have been full of respective breakthroughs for Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski. At the Melbourne Summer Set 1 tournament, their good fortunes came together for the first time. There, the top-seeded Dutch-English duo triumphed, beating Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Aisam-ul_haq Qureshi in straight sets in the final.
It’s the seventh tournament triumph of Skupski’s career, while Koolhof claimed his eighth top prize. For each of them, it’s their fourth title since 2020, showing just how well they’ve been playing of late.
PICKING UP WHERE SHE LEFT OFF
At her last tournament, the 2021 WTA Finals, Katerina Siniakova capped off a dream season on the doubles court, winning the championship with her longtime partner Barbora Krejcikova. Those two didn’t play together the first week of the 2022 season as Siniakova teamed up with Bernarda Pera at Melbourne Summer Set 2.
Nevertheless, Siniakova kept doing what knows best: winning.
The pair battled through the draw from start to finish and in the final, beat Tereza Martincova and Mayar Sherif in a match tiebreak. Pera claimed her first career title, while Siniakova strengthened her hold on the top spot with her 15th triumph.
Exploring more of Australia, both tours are convening in Sydney this week for the long-running tournament there. On the men’s side, Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic—last season’s team of the year—make their 2022 debut. The top seeds are followed in the draw by Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah. The event also features the reunion of Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies, who spent most of last year apart due to an injury for Mies. Barbora Krejcikova and Shuai Zhang are the top seeds on the women’s side, followed by Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara.
In the second week of action in Adelaide, Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury are the top seeds for the men, followed by Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo. The third seeds are Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski, who will be going for their second title in a row to kick off 2022. With Marie Bouzkova and Lucie Hradecka, the top seeds on the women’s side, pulling out before the tournament started, the draw opened up somewhat. Nadiia Kichenok and Sania Mirza, the No. 2 seeds have experienced pre-Australian Open success before, winning the title in Hobart in 2020.