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Doubles Take: Serena Williams returns to action; Mate Pavic keeps winning
With Wimbledon a few days away, the action on the grass heats up. Doubles Take looks at the latest in team play.
Published Jun 22, 2022
WATCH: Tennis Channel Live discusses Serena Williams' performance in her return match with Ons Jabeur at 2022 Eastbourne doubles
With Wimbledon a few days away, the action on the grass is heating up.
Doubles Take looks at the latest in team play, from last week's winners to catching up on grass-court tournaments in Eastbourne, Bad Homburg and Mallorca.
All eyes are on the WTA stop in Eastbourne this week—and for good reason: Future Hall of Famer Serena Williams is making her return to competition after a year's absence. She's getting her preparation for Wimbledon in on the doubles court as she teams up with Ons Jabeur. The duo won its first match in a thriller as they eked out a 13-11 deciding super tiebreak over Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo.
Jabeur and Williams continued the momentum against Shuko Aoyama and Hao-Ching Chan, who took out the fourth seeds Lucie Hradecka and Sania Mirza in the first round—an indicator of how tough this tournament is. Jabeur and Williams booked a place in the semifinals with a 6-2, 6-4 victory.
Barbora Krejcikova and Ena Shibara are the top seeds, followed by Gabriela Dabrowski and Giuliana Olmos, and both teams are through to the quarters. Provided the rust is at a minimum, Williams should be OK, though: After all, she's won more Wimbledon doubles titles than the rest of the field combined.
KINGS OF QUEEN'S
Continuing his mini-resurgence that started on clay, former world No. 1 Mate Pavic won his third title in four events in Stuttgart a couple of weeks ago with Hubert Hurkacz to kick off his grass-court campaign for 2022.
Entering the prestigious event at Queen's Club in London with his regular partner Nikola Mektic, the hot streak continued.
The Croatians and defending Wimbledon champions claimed the title—their third together and 12th overall—with a win over Harri Heliovaara and Lloyd Glasspool in the final. The duo won their first match in straight sets before being pushed to the brink in their next three.
A FIRST ON THE TURF
The team that Pavic and Mektic defeated in the Wimbledon final last year was the always-consistent Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers, who were playing in their first championship match together on grass then.
They reached a second last week in Halle, Germany, but weren't going to be denied on this occasion.
The top seeds, playing in their first championship match together in nearly a year, topped Tim Puetz and Michael Venus 14-12 in a match tiebreak in the final. And that win came after a hard-fought victory over French Open finalists Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek in the semis. Battling past two tough opponents and making a bit of a breakthrough on the grass is the perfect confidence-builder as Granollers and Zeballos look to go one step further at Wimbledon this year.
TOP SEEDS TRIUMPH
With Barbora Krejcikova, her Grand Slam-winning partner, sidelined for much of the year, Katerina Siniakova has been in a bit of a scramble as she presses on.
When you're one of the best doubles players in the world, though, it's not too hard to find success with whomever you're taking the court with.
Teaming up with Aussie standout Storm Sanders in Berlin, the top seeds lived up to their billing as they only dropped one set all week. In the championship match, they knocked off singles stars Alize Cornet and Jil Teichmann, giving each of them their second title of the year and first since the Australian summer.
MAKING A BREAKTHROUGH
Over the course of the past year and a half, Lyudmyla Kichenok and Jelena Ostapenko have been one of the more consistent teams on the WTA Tour. However, that hasn't necessarily paid off with the hardware: They reached their first final together in February in Dubai, when Ostapenko was bidding for the singles-doubles sweep.
Fast forward to the grass season and the tournament in Birmingham, England, where the Ukrainian-Latvian duo was seeded second. They dropped one set in their first three matches to reach the final against top seeds Elise Mertens and Shuai Zhang.
However, a blockbuster championship bout wasn't in the cards as Zhang suffered an injury in the singles final. It's not the way the winners would've liked to take home the title, but it's still a strong showing with the year's third Grand Slam event approaching.
The men have two tournaments taking place, one of them being Eastbourne, where Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, the top seeds, are through to the quarterfinals. Former Wimbledon champs and second seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah weren’t as fortunate, though, falling in their opener.
At the other event in Mallorca, Spain, top seeds and French Open winners Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer won their first match, as did Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies, the second seeds.
Aside from Eastbourne, the women are also playing in Bad Homburg, Germany, with Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya headlining the draw, followed by Alicja Rosolska and Erin Routliffe. Both teams have made it through to the final eight.