Max Mirnyi Previews Doubles At The 2019 Australian Open
For the first time since the 2002 Australian Open, recently retired Max Mirnyi is not competing in the doubles draw of a Grand Slam. A former No. 1 player in the ATP Doubles Rankings, the Belarusian played 84 of the past 86 doubles majors.
But Mirnyi is still keeping a close eye on the sport he played professionally for more than 20 years, and he is excited to watch what happens at the 2019 Australian Open. With that being said, Mirnyi does not want to make predictions, knowing how tough all the teams competing are.
“To comment and predict any tennis event is a very hard and unpredictable thing, and doubles is much moreso,” Mirnyi said.
However, ‘The Beast’ told ATPTour.com what to look out for in Melbourne during the fortnight.
The Bryan Brothers Are Back Together
“I’m happy to see that Bob and Mike are back together. They had a promising start in Auckland by taking out Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau, I think that’s a good sign. I would recommend fans and the players be wary of what’s going on there. I think it’s great that Bob has come back this strong and is ready to play the big matches again.”
Marach/Pavic Defend Their Title
“Traditionally, the team that should be most motivated is the one that is defending the title and in this case, that’s Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic. They’re the No. 1 seeds and probably have a good chance to do what they did last year. You have on that particular team Marach, who is an older, more experienced player and Pavic, who has shown that he’s a good prospect with knowledge about the doubles game. He’s a hard worker, so I think that team has a lot of upwards momentum.”
Singles Players Teaming Up
“I’m very keen on seeing some teams that are made up of singles players. Normally at a tournament like a Grand Slam, they always have good motivation to start with, but also a good possibility to do good things. It’s a two-week event. Those that pick up good form and play a lot matches [in singles and doubles] normally catch the roll and keep going with the doubles as well.
“That was the case for me for many years. I felt when I was playing one match after another, it was easier to reproduce it on the doubles court. Also, there’s the fact that it allows you to focus on the doubles only when you’re eliminated from singles. Four years back, a team like Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini won the Australian Open.”
Mirnyi’s Doubles Teams Made Of Singles Players To Watch:
– Daniil Medvedev and Ilya Ivashka
– Nick Kyrgios and Matt Reid
– Leonardo Mayer and Joao Sousa
– Radu Albot and Malek Jaziri (2018 US Open semi-finalists)
Top Teams Sticking Together
Eight of the top 10 seeds in Melbourne played together last season. Marcelo Melo could not compete due to injury, so his usual partner, Lukasz Kubot, is playing with Horacio Zeballos. They are the seventh seeds.
“I think it’s a good sign. The fact that teams are staying together just shows that there’s much more unity within those teams. There’s much more long-term thinking, and I think that’s great for the sport because when you see too many frequent changes, it normally indicates that teams are in a state of panic… an event like this at the beginning of the year shows players are committed, they probably have been preparing together in the off-season, and it lays out the outlook for the year, at least the first five, six months of the year.”
Colombian Duo, Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah, Seeks First Slam
“They got far last year, losing in the final. I think it’s due for them to win a Grand Slam title. They’ve been really persistent with the work that they’ve done. They’ve had a good friend of mine, a former doubles player, coaching them: Jeff Coetzee. He’s done a great job with them and I’m very keen to see them do well. Hopefully they can get a Slam title together.”
Mirnyi first came across Cabal in the final of Roland Garros in 2011, when the Belarusian won the title with Daniel Nestor. Mirnyi has been impressed by the Colombian ever since.
“He’s certainly been around and proved himself time and time again. They had success in Rome last year, a few other events they did well. Now that they’re one of the top seeds, they should do well.”
“Playing the Colombians is a little bit like playing the Bryan brothers. They’re beatable, a lot of guys beat them, but when it comes to the pressure situations, normally those teams that have worked through a lot together and know each other’s tendencies don’t have to speak to one another so much. That eliminates the miscommunication factor, which often is the case for teams that are fresh. A costly mistake of a miscommunication can be the deciding factor for winning or losing a match. Teams like Bryan/Bryan and Cabal/Farah that have played together for a long time, the opposition feels that you really have to play well to beat them, you have to beat them with what you’ve come out there to do, with your gameplan. Usually those teams are not going to make an error or miscommunication to hand you the win.”
Teams That Just Missed The Nitto ATP Finals Starting Strong
“Those are usually very hungry teams that have a lot to think about and if they’re staying together, there’s a good possibility for them to improve and a Grand Slam is a good opportunity for them to make that improvement. It’s key at the beginning of the year because if you put yourself in a good position in the ATP Doubles Race To London from the get-go, it gets a bit more respect for that team and it’s like a headstart almost in the Race.”
On two teams that finished No. 12 and No. 13 in the ATP Doubles Race To London in 2018, respectively: Ben McLachlan/Jan-Lennard Struff and Dominic Inglot/Franko Skugor…
“Struff and McLachlan just won a title, so that’s a sign that they’re in full force. Even though there was probably disappointment not qualifying for the [Nitto] ATP Finals last year, they’re strong and already grabbing a title this year. So definitely, those teams are the ones to look for and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of those teams is maybe going to be in the Top 5 of the Race at the end of the Australian Open.”