Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut started off their 2019 campaign together perfectly with the title at the Australian Open to complete the career Grand Slam. And now, they have just finished the season with another major title under their belts.
The Frenchmen have defeated Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus 6-3, 6-4 in the championship match today at the ATP Finals. For Herbert and Mahut, it’s their first title at the season-ending tournament, which features the best eight teams over the course of the ATP season. Last year, they came close to capturing the crown, but lost the final to Jack Sock and Mike Bryan despite having championship points.
This year, though, they played from the start as if they weren’t going to be denied. In the opener, the French duo got an early break of serve, then rode it out to a 6-3 scoreline in their favor. The second set was closer through the first six games, but in the always-crucial seventh one, they scored another break to go up 4-3. After exchanging holds, Mahut served out the match to 15.
Herbert and Mahut came into the tournament in perfect form, having captured the title at the Paris Masters for the first time, while becoming the first French team to triumph at the last regular-season event of the year in more than a decade. They won every set in Paris and accomplished the same feat in London: a dominant stretch rarely seen in men’s doubles.
With their play over the past month, one can’t help but wonder, “what if,” though.
Shortly after their Australian Open win, which put them in prime position to target the calendar-year Grand Slam, Herbert and Mahut took an extended break through the clay- and grass-court stretches of the year as Herbert wanted to make a push in improving his singles ranking. At 28 and seemingly in his prime, the Frenchman had yet to win a singles title, despite reaching three finals. Mahut, on the other hand, had won four singles titles over the course of his career and nearly a decade older at 37, appeared to relate to his partner’s ambitions. Mahut still found success on the doubles court, playing with countryman Edouard Roger-Vasselin as they reached the final at Wimbledon.
When Herbert and Mahut had their planned reunion over the summer during the hard-court season, they posted a 1-2 record between Cincinnati and the US Open. After New York, Mahut partnered Roger-Vasselin to the semifinals at the Shanghai Masters, the final in Metz, France, and the title at the Japan Open.
Guaranteed a spot at the ATP Finals due to their Australian Open win, Herbert and Mahut started their preparations in Vienna, where they advanced to the semifinals, before winning the title in Paris. As they’ve proven over the course of the past several seasons, they have a natural chemistry that can’t be overlooked, which only complements their classic style of doubles play.
The duo could have had a realistic shot at more Grand Slam titles in 2019, but there’s no need to look back as they’ve achieved what they set out to do at the start of the week in London, and that’s to be crowned the world champions.