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Doubles Take: Pavic and Mektic add gold medal to dominant debut season
Also at the Tokyo Olympics, Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova became the first team from the Czech Republic to stand atop the podium.
Published Aug 02, 2021
TC Live: The growth of tennis at the Olympic Games
Doubles Take gets back into the swing of the regular-season tour events, but not without a look back at the Summer Games.
EXPECTED RUNS AND PLEASANT SURPRISES
The medals have been draped and anthems (or famous compositions) have been played. In other words, it’s a wrap on the Olympics in regard to the different tennis events. Some teams lived up to their place in the draw, while others showed how the Summer Games can provide inspiration to reach new heights. Here’s a look at the winners:
• On the men’s side, the dream 2021 season for Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic of Croatia continued. The top seeds made it to the final and saw a couple of familiar faces there: compatriots Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig, making for the first all-countrymen doubles final since tennis’ return to the Summer Games in 1988. It was a win for their nation, but only one team could take the gold—and that was Pavic and Mektic, as they captured their ninth title of the year. New Zealand’s Michael Venus and Marcus Daniel won the bronze.
• What a year it’s been for Barbora Krejcikova so far. Aside from her astonishing rise in singles, she’s still maintained her place among the elite in doubles with Katerina Siniakova. This year’s French Open champions claimed their second major title of the year, defeating Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic and Viktorija Golubic in the final. Denying Bencic a singles-doubles sweep in Tokyo, Krejcikova and Siniakova became the first team from the Czech Republic to win gold. The bronze went to Luisa Stefani and Laura Pigossi of Brazil.
• Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev, outside contenders for singles medals, fell short in that discipline. However, the two of Russia’s best players overcame their disappointment and battled through to Olympic gold in mixed doubles, winning match tiebreaks in each round, including in the final against their compatriots, Aslan Karatsev and Elena Vesnina. John Peers and Ashleigh Barty of Australia took home the bronze Medal.
A PERFECT DEBUT
On the singles court, Reilly Opelka and Jannik Sinner are considered among the game’s brightest young prospects. While their respective starts to the U.S. summer hard-court swing in Atlanta in that discipline didn’t go particularly smooth, they managed to put some difficult losses behind them to triumph in doubles.
The American-Italian duo, playing together for the first time, captured the top prize, defeating Steve Johnson and Jordan Thompson in a match tiebreak in the final. It’s the first doubles victory for both Opelka and Sinner, and could help boost their confidence on the singles court in the weeks ahead.
AN EVEN-MORE PERFECT DEBUT
As noted in Doubles Take last week, the draw for the Generali Open in Kitzbuhel, Austria, was exceptionally deep, with all of the top four seeded teams comprised of players that have won multiple titles on clay in the past. It was essentially a toss-up to see which one of them would have ended the week on top.
However, it was a couple of main-tour-level debutants that triumphed at the end—on home soil, to boot.
Austrian wild cards Alexander Erler and Lucas Miedler took the title, defeating the third seeds Roman Jebavy and Matwe Middelkoop in the final. On the way to victory, they also shocked Tomislav Brkic and Nikola Cacic, the top seeds, as well as Ariel Behar and Gonzalo Escobar, the fourth seeds.
It’s hard to put on a much-better run than that in your first tournament on the ATP Tour.
After two 125-level tournaments last week, the WTA kicks off its North American hard-court stretch with the 500 event in San Jose, Calif. There, the top seeds are Canada’s Gabriela Dabrowski and Luisa Stefani of Brazil, who will be coming in fresh off a Bronze Medal finish in Tokyo. Andreja Klepac and Darija Jurak, champions on grass in Bad Homburg, Germany, this summer are the second seeds. There is also a 250-level event on the calendar, on clay in Romania, this week. Viktoria Kuzmova and Alicja Rosolska are the second seeds, followed by Aleksandra Krunic and Lidziya Marozava, each of whom have won titles on the dirt this year.
For the men, the hard-court prep leading up to the US Open continues in Washington, D.C. for the Citi Open. Befitting of a 500-level tournament, the draw is very deep with accomplished players throughout: How they gel on the court will make the difference. For instance, John Peers is teaming up with one of this year’s Australian Open winners, Filip Polasek. They’re the top seeds, while Polasek’s former partner and Olympic silver medalist Dodig is partnering veteran Rohan Bopanna this week. The third seeds face one of those dangerous—and entertaining—singles pairs first up: Nick Kyrgios and “DMV” hero Frances Tiafoe. Neal Skupski and Olympics bronze medal winner Michael Venus are the second seeds.