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Doubles Take: Previewing the ATP Finals
The top eight teams are set to do battle at the season-ending championships.
Published Nov 08, 2019
It’s almost time for the last tour event of the season, the ATP Finals. Doubles Take previews the action.
Last year at the season-ending championships on the ATP Tour, Jack Sock and Mike Bryan capped a dream season for a “scratch” pairing by winning the title in London, their third major one of the season after Wimbledon and the US Open.
In 2019, another team—this one way more established in their partnership—will be looking to emulate the feat of the Americans.
The longtime pairing of Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah have had the best season of their careers. “Colombian Power” won its first two Grand Slams at Wimbledon and the US Open to go along with titles at the Italian Open, Barcelona and Eastbourne. The No. 1 team headlines the field and is in Group Max Mirnyi in London. Consistent for the bulk of the year, the duo has cooled off somewhat during the fall and could be tested early and often by the Grand Slam winners—past and present—in their group.
Cabal and Farah are the top seeds in London. (Getty Images)
Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies, the surprise winners at the French Open this year, struggled after their career-defining win until a run to the semifinals at the US Open. That helped put them back on track: The Germans recently captured the title in Antwerp and just reached the semifinals at the Paris Masters, where they fell to the other major-winning team of 2019, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, who would go on to win the title.
For a good portion of the year, the Aussie Open champs had gone their separate ways as Herbert decided to make a push in singles. Their title in Paris shows they’re all the way back at this stage of their reunion. All three of those teams will be pushed by the veterans Horia Tecau and Jean-Julien Rojer, two-time Grand Slam champions and the only team in London to actually win the title there, back in 2015.
In Group Jonas Bjorkman, Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo—who’ve spent the bulk of the past three seasons at or near the top of the rankings—are the No. 2 seeds at the tournament and headline this portion of the draw. Familiarity with each other in big-match situations could help their cause: The Polish-Brazilian duo is the only team in the group to win a Slam together.
Michael Venus and Ivan Dodig, both former French Open champions with different partners, have had standout 2019 campaigns with their respective partners, Raven Klaasen and Filip Polasek. Venus and Klaasen, who reached the final at Wimbledon last year, won two titles out of four finals this year.
Dodig and Polasek have actually been one of the biggest surprises of the season: After being retired for years due to injury forcing him out of the game, the veteran Polasek has had the best year of his career since returning to the court in 2018. He and Dodig reached the semifinals at Wimbledon in just their second event together, then won the Cincinnati Masters and China Open.
The fourth team in this group, Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, just started playing together this year and steady play has lifted them into ATP Finals. They’re coming in relatively fresh off their second title of the year in Vienna, a run that also helped Ram crack the Top 10 in the rankings for the first time.
With five of the eight teams having won Grand Slam titles together, this is one of the toughest fields in recent memory, making the path to the title an increasingly difficult one to navigate.
Follow Van on Twitter: @Van_Sias