Q2 Doubles Review: Cabal/Farah Setting The Pace
ATPTour.com reviews the second quarter's doubles storylines
1. Colombian Power
Over the past three months lifelong friends Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah have worked hard on their ascent to the summit of the ATP Doubles Rankings, setting the pace on the doubles circuit by compiling a 24-4 team record in that period to become joint No. 1s for the first time (week beginning 15 July).
The Colombians, who have known each other for almost 30 years, have captured four tour-level trophies in 2019, culminating in a four-hour, 57-minute thriller over Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin at The Championships, Wimbledon, that marked their first Grand Slam men’s doubles championship crown.
Five years on from lifting their first trophy in Rio de Janeiro, Cabal and Farah have compiled a 15-16 record in finals, which includes successes over the past few months at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d. Murray/Soares), their second consecutive Internazionali BNL d'Italia title (d. Klaasen/Venus) and at the Nature Valley International (d. Gonzalez/Zeballos) that set up their run at the All England Club.
2. Mike's 500 Weeks At No. 1
Mike Bryan, synonymous with spectacular returning, volleying and his record-breaking partnership with twin brother, Bob Bryan, celebrated his 500th week at No. 1 in the ATP Doubles Rankings on 26 May 2019.
“It seems like yesterday that we won Roland Garros [in 2003] and reached No. 1,” Mike Bryan told ATPTour.com. “It’s a dream to hit No. 1, but to be No. 1 for so long I owe it to this guy. We’ve been pushing each other and never really taken the foot off the gas as long as we’ve been playing. We’ve always reached for more and never been satisfied when we’ve won a tournament and set our sights on the next one. There has been sacrifice, but we love what we do.”
The feat came 15 years after he first reached the summit of the team game on 8 September 2003; and 46 weeks since returning to No. 1 for his 13th stint on 16 July 2018 - the first time since 25 October 2013. Mike Bryan continues to compete with the same passion, energy and dedication, with a record 1,129 tour-level match wins and 123 titles.
Read Tribute: Mike Celebrates 500th Week at No. 1
3. ATP Challenger Tour Stars To Grand Slam Champions
Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies have enjoyed an unprecedented rise since first joining forces in April 2018, initially plying their trade on the ATP Challenger Tour, to their first ATP Tour crown, and the biggest moment of their career at Roland Garros last month.
With ATP Challenger Tour titles in Rome, Almaty, Genova, Sibiu and Eckental on their mantle-pieces in 2018, the Germans were well-travelled before they captured their first ATP Tour crown in February this year at the New York Open, where they didn’t drop a set all week. But it wasn’t until they dipped back to the second tier, with two further crowns in Marbella and Heilbronn, that they made their Top 50 breakthroughs ahead of their debuts at the clay-court major championship in Paris.
The pair will now attempt to build on its breakthrough in order to qualify for the eight-team Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 10-17 November.
Read Feature: The Meteoric Rise Of Mies & Krawietz
4. Andy Murray Makes Welcome & Dramatic Return At The Queen’s Club
Five months on from undergoing right hip surgery, Andy Murray made a welcome return to the ATP Tour in June – not on the singles court, but in tandem with Feliciano Lopez at the Fever-Tree Championships. Having saved two set points in the opening set, the pair clinched the title with a 7-6(6), 5-7, 10-5 win over Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury.
It was Murray’s first ATP Tour doubles title since prevailing with his brother, Jamie Murray, at the 2011 Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo (d. Cermak/Polasek), and gave him a confidence boost for his chances of returning to singles competition, potentially later in 2019. “I felt relaxed at the beginning of the week, but felt more nervous as it went on. I think my competitive instincts started kicking in,” said Murray. “My hip has felt great, pain-free. I’ll try to keep progressing, but I am just happy to be back on the court.”
Lopez, who defeated Gilles Simon earlier in the day to clinch The Queen’s Club singles crown, was the first player since Matteo Berrettini (2018 Gstaad) to win singles and doubles titles at the same event. The Spaniard was also the first man since Mark Philippoussis (1997) to win both titles in the same year at The Queen's Club.
5. ATP Doubles Race To London Shaping Up
A little more than three months ago, Cabal and Farah could be found in 13th position on 690 points in the ATP Doubles Race To London, but today lead the quest for a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals in November on 5,250 points. The Colombians lead the second-placed Bryan twins (2,690) by 2,560 points and are already in strong contention to finish 2019 as the year-end No. 1 team (having finished second behind Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic in 2018). The Bryans have clinched two ATP Tour titles this year: their fifth Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com (d. Skupski/Skupski) and their sixth Miami Open presented by Itau (d. Koolhof/Tsitsipas).
Third-placed Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, the 2017 finalists at the season finale, trail the Americans by only 35 points, while 2015 Nitto ATP Finals titlists Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau (sixth), this season’s Mutua Madrid Open champions, and 2016/17 winners Henri Kontinen and John Peers (seventh) are separated by just 10 points with less than four months to go until the event at The O2 in London from 10-17 November.