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Doubles Take: ATP, WTA crown year-end champs
Doubles Take looks at the recently completed season-ending championships for both tours.
Published Nov 24, 2021
LE TRIOMPHE IN TURIN
No matter how much time they might spend apart, there’s one thing that’s certain: Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut are going to be among the top contenders at any tournament they play.
After a two-month break, this year’s Roland Garros champions entered the ATP Finals in Turin with some momentum on their side, having just reached the final at the Paris Masters. The last time they played for the top prize in Bercy, in 2019, they went on to win the title and followed it up with their first victory at the season-ending tournament.
Seeded third this year in Turin, Italy, they won their first round-robin match against Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, but lost their second against Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, despite having match points. Herbert and Mahut rebounded from that to beat Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares to reach the semifinals, where they knocked off Wimbledon runners-up Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos in straight sets.
In the final, they again faced Ram and Salisbury—arguably the hottest team on tour the second half of the year. The American-English duo beat the top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic in the semis to advance to their first championship match at the ATP Finals. In this rematch, though, there was no let-up from the Frenchmen as they beat Ram and Salisbury in straight sets to win the title for the second time in three years, adding to their history-making results.
If Barbora Krejcikova hadn’t been seen that much on the doubles court the past few months, there’s a very good reason for it. After all, in one of the most remarkable late-bloomer stories in recent years, the 25-year-old posted singles results to nearly match her doubles accomplishments. At the WTA Finals, making its return to the calendar after a year’s suspension due to the pandemic, Krejcikova was a participant in both the singles and doubles fields, teaming up with longtime partner Katerina Siniakova in the latter discipline.
The tournament was held in Guadalajara, Mexico, for the first time and the newness of it all permeated through everything, it seemed. From six partnerships making their debut to a large portion of the field individually qualifying for the first time, excitement was definitely in the air. The fans created a lively atmosphere from first ball to the last, and the players soaked it in.
Seeded first, Krejcikova and Siniakova were only pushed to a match tiebreak in one of their first three matches, winning their group with a 3-0 record. All the top four teams made it to the semifinals, with Krejcikova and Siniakova beating Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Demi Schuurs to reach the final. On the other side, Wimbledon champs Hsieh Su-Wei and Elise Mertens topped Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara, carrying their winning ways over from Indian Wells.
In the end, though, it was the Czechs that posted the straight-sets win over the third seeds for the title. It’s the first year-end title for Krejcikova and Siniakova, and their third big win of the year after Roland Garros and Olympic Gold.
Making its return to the calendar, too, after a year off is the Davis Cup finals. The event has been revamped and doubles will play an even more crucial outcome in a nation’s results. Many top players will be taking part in the team competition: from Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury making their respective debuts for the United States and Great Britain to “Colombian Power,” aka Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, once again spearheading their nation’s chances.