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Best Of 2017: Doubles Storylines Abound

  • Posted: Dec 07, 2017

Best Of 2017: Doubles Storylines Abound

ATP World Tour Season In Review: Doubles In 2017

Continuing our Season In Review series, looks at the headlines that shaped 2017 on the doubles circuit

Year-Long Tussle For Top Team
It came down to the final week of the season. The battle for year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings was intense from start to finish in 2017, as two teams created plenty of drama on the doubles court. Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo edged Henri Kontinen and John Peers for the top honour during the Nitto ATP Finals, ending a year-long tussle for No. 1. Both teams began their respective reigns in the Top 2 on April 3 and neither would depart from their perches for the rest of the season.

Kubot and Melo concluded 2017 with a dominant 49-18 mark together, including a grass-court sweep in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Halle and Wimbledon, as well as ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns in Miami, Madrid and Paris. They edged Kontinen and Peers 9-7 in a marathon fifth set in the Wimbledon semi-finals, before edging Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic 13-11 in the title match.

But while the Polish-Brazilian duo emerged on top, their chief rivals had the last laugh at The O2 in London. Kontinen and Peers successfully defended their Nitto ATP Finals crown with a final victory over Kubot and Melo, extending their lead in the FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry to 4-1. The Finnish-Aussie tandem were a perfect five-for-five in tour-level finals this year, also triumphing at the Australian Open, Shanghai Rolex Masters and ATP World Tour 500 events in Washington and Beijing.

You May Also Like: Kubot & Melo Clinch Year-End No. 1 Emirates ATP Doubles Team Ranking

Parity Steals The Show In Race
Four different Grand Slam winners, five different ATP World Tour Masters 1000 champions and separate teams lifting the year-end No. 1 trophy and Nitto ATP Finals crown. Needless to say, it was a year of parity on the biggest stages on the ATP World Tour doubles circuit.

While Kubot/Melo and Kontinen/Peers quickly separated themselves from the pack, other teams earned signature wins throughout the year. Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut enjoyed an impressive run through the heart of the season, en route to punching their ticket at The O2 for a third straight year. The Frenchmen celebrated a 12-match win streak at the Masters 1000 level, reeling off consecutive titles in Rome, Montreal and Cincinnati. They have now won six of the nine Masters 1000 titles together.

Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram (Indian Wells) and Rohan Bopanna and Pablo Cuevas (Monte-Carlo) also prevailed at the elite level. Cuevas was a force in 2017, winning four doubles titles and singles crowns on both the ATP World Tour (Sao Paulo) and ATP Challenger Tour (Montevideo). On the doubles court, he was victorious at all three ATP World Tour levels with different partners, also prevailing in Rio de Janeiro with Pablo Carreno Busta and in Kitzbuhel with Guillermo Duran.

The parity on the doubles circuit was even more evident at the Grand Slam level, with Ryan Harrison and Michael Venus completing a dream run to the semi-finals at the Nitto ATP Finals after lifting their maiden Grand Slam trophy at Roland Garros. The longtime friends ran through a gauntlet on the terre battue of Paris, winning all six matches in deciding sets. And they would take advantage of their first appearance at the season finale in London, reaching the semis as the eighth seeds behind a 3-0 round robin campaign.

Meanwhile, Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau made their third appearance in four years at The O2, behind a title run at the US Open. It was their second Grand Slam crown together, having previously prevailed on the lawns of Wimbledon in 2015. They were a dominant force at Flushing Meadows, defeating four straight seeded opponents and dropping just two sets all fortnight. Posting a 4-0 mark in tour-level finals this year, they also won in Dubai, Geneva and Winston-Salem.

Trio Trades No. 1 Torch
Three players from three different teams traded the No. 1 torch in the individual Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings, with Marcelo Melo taking the year-end honour for the second time. The mantle exchanged hands on four occasions in 2017, with Nicolas Mahut handing it off to Henri Kontinen in early April, before Melo wrestled it away in July. Kontinen would once again surge to the top spot a month later, but the Brazilian snatched it for good at the Rolex Paris Masters.

Melo, also the year-end No. 1 in 2015, is the 10th player in the Open Era to conclude a season at the summit on multiple occasions. Kontinen, meanwhile, made history in becoming the first Finn to reach World No. 1 and the 50th player overall, since the establishment of the team rankings in March 1976.

Mike Bryan, Nestor Tied For All-Time Wins Lead
Despite failing to win a Grand Slam or ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title for the first time since 2004, the Bryan brothers continued to add milestones to their legendary resumes. Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals for a record 15th straight year – and 16th overall – behind titles in Atlanta and Eastbourne and a runner-up finish at the Australian Open.

But it was Mike alone who seized arguably the biggest accomplishment of the year. The 39-year-old became the all-time winningest player in doubles history on 5 September. A quarter-final win at the US Open momentarily moved him ahead of Daniel Nestor with 1052 victories.

Mike still stands at No. 1 on the all-time list, but he now has some company at the summit, with the American and the Canadian currently tied with 1056 wins apiece. Bob is in third place with 1042 victories. 

Nestor announced that 2018 will be his final season on the ATP World Tour, as he looks to compete in a 30th Rogers Cup in August. 

Open Era Doubles Match Wins List


Doubles Match Wins

Mike Bryan


Daniel Nestor


Bob Bryan


Todd Woodbridge


Max Mirnyi


Mirnyi and Zimonjic Join Elite Company
Doubles legends Max Mirnyi and Nenad Zimonjic etched their names in the record books with milestone victories of their own. On 26 July in Hamburg, Zimonjic notched his 700th career win, becoming just the 10th player to do so. A longtime ambassador of doubles, the Serbian continues to grow the game as he builds his own legacy. In February, he won his first title since 2014, prevailing in Sofia.

“It’s nice to play in Hamburg again, for the first time since 2012, and to achieve the 700th match win in a country of such rich tennis tradition,” Zimonjic told “It means a lot to join this ‘Club’, it’s a lot of wins and I want to thank all my partners over the years.”

Meanwhile, Mirnyi became a member of an even more exclusive club on 26 September in Shenzhen, when ‘The Beast’ celebrated match win No. 750. The 40-year-old became just the fifth player to win 750 matches, joining the Bryans, Nestor and Todd Woodbridge. One month later in Moscow, he would hit another milestone in claiming his 50th title

“I am thrilled that I have come to this stage of my career,” said Mirnyi. “It is something that I couldn’t have imagined at the beginning of the road.”


Other Highlights
Qureshi Goes Five-For-Five: Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi won five titles with five different partners, teaming up with Marcin Matkowski on the hard courts of Auckland, Florin Mergea on the clay of Barcelona, Robert Lindstedt and Rajeev Ram on the grass of Antalya and Newport and finally with Jonathan Erlich at the Chengdu Open. The former World No. 8 also reached the final in Stockholm with Jean-Julien Rojer. 

Qureshi’s biggest impact has come off the court, however, having started the ‘Stop War Start Tennis’ initiative in Africa. He hopes that the introduction of tennis will lead to a better life for those in need. Learn More

Zverev’s Double Dip: Alexander Zverev became the only player to win singles and doubles crowns in the same week, when he teamed up with brother Mischa Zverev at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier. It was the younger Zverev’s first doubles title, joining Brisbane champions Thanasi Kokkinakis and Jordan Thompson, as well as Japanese duo Ben Mclachlan and Yasutaka Uchiyama as other notable first-time winners. The unseeded Japanese team prevailed on home soil in Tokyo with stunning upsets of top seeds Rojer/Tecau and second seeds Murray/Soares.

Match Tie-break Marathon: Aussies Matt Reid and John-Patrick Smith won a 42-point Match Tie-break in their Newport opener – the longest of the year on the ATP World Tour. They defeated Taiwanese tandem Cheng-Peng Hsieh and Hsien-Yin Peng 4-6, 6-4, 22/20, needing 10 match points while saving five.

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Bryan Brothers, Jack Nicklaus Raise More Than $1 Million With Tennis, Golf Event

  • Posted: Dec 07, 2017

Bryan Brothers, Jack Nicklaus Raise More Than $1 Million With Tennis, Golf Event

‘Fore Love’ featured ATP stars, including Andy Murray, and PGA players, such as Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas

Doubles greats the Bryan brothers partnered with golf legend Jack Nicklaus to raise money for their children’s foundations. The Fore Love Tournament combined both golf and tennis pro-ams this past weekend in Palm Beach, Florida. ATP World Tour, WTA, and PGA tour professionals donated their time and charitable efforts to help raise $1.1 million for the Bryan Bros. Foundation and the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation.

The participants played tennis on Sunday with Andy Murray, the Bryan Brothers, and other ATP stars at Jack and Barbara Nicklaus’s house. On Monday they played a round of golf with Jack Nicklaus, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Jason Dufner, Lucas Glover and Daniel Berger.

The donors each paid $50,000 for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play and rub shoulders with sports royalty in a uniquely intimate environment.

“It was such a magical event. Everyone was so warm and friendly and we all left with memories to last a lifetime,” Bob Bryan told ‪‬. “It was really unlike anything we’ve ever done before and I think even some of the pros were blown away by the venue, atmosphere, and format.”

The three-day event started with a welcome party at The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Florida. Participants received leather gift bags highlighted by a Roger Federer autographed racquet.


‪The next morning, tennis got underway at the Nicklaus residence on its three grass courts. The courts, Mike Bryan said, “rival The Queen’s Club and Wimbledon in quality. There wasn’t one bad bounce on those courts. They were flawless.”‬

The donors played doubles for more than four hours alongside current and former tour stars Murray, Serena Williams, Kevin Anderson, James Blake, Genie Bouchard, Jim Courier, Tommy Haas, Mark Knowles, Stefan Kozlov, Reilly Opelka, and Jack Sock.

“Everyone got a chance to play against or alongside the 13 pros,” Bob Bryan said.

After dinner at the Nicklaus’ house, the Bryan Brothers Band, including ‪Counting Crows‬ drummer Jim Bogios, closed the evening.


Sunday was spent at The Bear’s Club, as the donors played golf with the PGA luminaries and some ATP players. “I rode around with Jack Sock who surprised me with his game. He was killing the ball and definitely did the tennis players proud out there,” Mike Bryan said.

The Bryans met Jack and Barbara Nicklaus seven years ago through a mutual friend. The family and the brothers stay in touch regularly with Jack and Barbara often texting their support after the Bryans’ matches.

“We’ve become great friends with the family and have seen first hand how passionate they are with their philanthropy,” Bob Bryan said. “Jack and Barbara are two of the most humble and gracious people we’ve ever met and have mentored us and helped take our charitable efforts to the next level. We have raised money in the past but nothing like what we raised last weekend.”

You May Also Like: Qureshi Inspires On ‘Stop War Start Tennis’ Tour In Africa

The Fore Love Tournament will receive more attention in March, when the Golf Channel show, Feherty, plans to air a segment on the event.

The Bryan brothers and the Nicklaus’s are excited about planning their second “Fore Love” next year. “We were elated with how it went in the first year and are looking forward to doing it even bigger and better in year two,” Bob Bryan said. “Hopefully a lot of the pros will be willing to help again because of how enjoyable and magical the whole experience was.”

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The Top 2 Grand Slam Matches Of 2017

  • Posted: Dec 07, 2017

The Top 2 Grand Slam Matches Of 2017

ATP World Tour Season In Review: Best Grand Slam Matches

Continuing our Season In Review series, looks at the best two Grand Slam matches of the 2017 season.

2. Del Potro d. Thiem, US Open, Round of 16 – 4 September 2017 (Match Stats)

Juan Martin del Potro appeared far closer to a plane ride back to Argentina than he did to a spot in the quarter-finals in Flushing Meadows when he faced the up-and-coming sixth seed, Dominic Thiem, on Grandstand in the fourth round at the US Open.

Thiem dominated the first two sets in just over an hour, and it seemed a lethargic Del Potro was wilting away — and quickly — due to a flu-like illness. There was no second wind in sight for the ‘Tower of Tandil’.

A thrilling 1-6, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(1), 6-4 victory to set up a rematch of the 2009 US Open final against third-seeded Roger Federer seemed completely unrealistic. But that is exactly what the New York crowd got. (Read Match Report)

Thiem played a sloppy second game in the third set out of nowhere to concede a break, allowing the raucous crowd into the match and shifting its momentum.

“I saw the crowd waiting for more tennis, waiting for my good forehands, good serves. I took all that energy to change in a good way and think about fighting and not retiring,” Del Potro said. “I started to enjoy little bit more about the fans. I think I did everything well after the third set. The crowd enjoyed with me all points. It was [an] unbelievable atmosphere.”

All around him, the same cry rang through the air.

“Ole! Ole Ole Ole! Delpo! Delpo!”

It was as if the fans chanting acted as a resurrection song for the 2009 US Open champion. All of a sudden, the shotmaking Thiem was getting caught far behind the baseline as if he were playing on his favoured clay. On the other side of the net, Del Potro was tap-dancing around his backhand to instead push Thiem around with monstrous forehands.

“I knew that it’s not going to go all the way like this because if he felt really bad, he would have retired for sure,” Thiem said of his mindset after the easy start to the match. “I knew that I have to maintain my level. Of course, the third set was bad. I mean, I played some really bad minutes. It was a great match I think, sets four and set five.”

The fourth set was especially entertaining. Del Potro broke, but Thiem won four games in a row to surge to a 5-2 lead, and he would serve for the match at 5-3. But after failing to convert on a 30/0 advantage in the game, Thiem sailed a sitting forehand well long to hand the break back. And from there, the match only got crazier.

The Austrian somehow halted the momentum to earn two match points on Del Potro’s serve at 6-5. But two aces quickly saw off the opportunity, and Thiem would never recover.

After a one-sided tie-break for Del Potro, the first nine games in the fifth set went to the server. But facing his second match point, Thiem double-faulted to lose one of the matches of the year.

In the next round, Del Potro would shock Federer and advance to the semi-finals, denying the first Federer-Rafael Nadal match at the US Open and keeping the Swiss from having a shot at leaving New York with the No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking. 

“I played one of the epic matches of my career here in the US Open,” Del Potro said. “I’m so glad to go through.”

1. Federer d. Nadal, Australian Open, Final – 29 January 2017 (Match Stats)

Whenever Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal meet on the tennis court, great things tend to happen. Make it a five-setter in a Grand Slam final and great is an understatement.

But it had been nearly six years since the longtime rivals met in a major final. And after both dealt with injuries toward the end of 2016, nobody believed they would face off in the final at Melbourne Park.

So when they battled their way to the championship match, that was a victory in itself. In fact, Federer, who before Melbourne had not played a tournament since 2016 Wimbledon, said after the match that he “would have been happy again to [just] be in the final”.

And it looked like that was as far as Federer would get when he sprayed a forehand wide to go down an immediate break in the fifth set. But he would storm back, winning the final five games to claim a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 victory in the Grand Slam match of the year. (Read & Watch Highlights)

In the moment, it seemed highly improbable that even Federer could come back from 1-3 down in a decider against Nadal. But after Federer failed to convert on five break points in the left-hander’s first three service games of the set, he finally found a way to even affairs at 3-3, Nadal barely missing an inside-out forehand wide to give the break back.

“I had the chance to keep holding serve,” Nadal said. “If I hold that one, you never know. You are [then] two games, just two games away.”

But Nadal would not win another game in the match. Federer swept the final five games to close out perhaps his unlikeliest victory ever, lifting an 18th Grand Slam trophy, which was his first win at a major against his greatest rival since the Wimbledon final in 2007.

“I told myself to play free,” Federer said. “ I didn’t want to go down just making shots, seeing forehands rain down on me from Rafa… I kept on fighting. I kept on believing, like I did all match long today, that there was a possibility I could win this match.”

At one point between the fourth and fifth sets, Nadal won seven of nine games. And when the Spaniard gains momentum, it is usually like trying to stop a freight train that has no brakes. But Federer stepped into the court and played even more aggressively than normal, attacking with his one-handed backhand to keep Nadal from going on the offensive first.

And although the victory took confirmation — Nadal challenged a Federer forehand approach shot on match point that clipped the line — the oldest Grand Slam champion (35 years, 174 days) since Ken Rosewall (1971) seemingly burst into tears of joy after claiming the win against all odds, becoming just the second player (Mats Wilander, 1982 Roland Garros) to defeat four Top 10 opponents en route to a major title.

“It’s a great draw because I’m in the draw,” said Federer before the event.

Little did he know that a fortnight later, he would be raising the trophy after a classic match in one of tennis’ most storied rivalries.

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