Djokovic/Gomez-Herrera Upset Top Seeds To Keep Mallorca Run Alive
Djokovic and Gomez-Herrera kicked off their partnership by taking down the in-form team of Nikola Cacic and Tomislav Brkic in their opening match. On Wednesday, they took things a step further by toppling top seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos in a 4-6, 7-6(3), 10-8 battle.
“We are having a lot of fun on the court,” Djokovic said in an on-court interview. “This was a huge win for us, beating one of the best doubles players in the world after losing the first set. I thought we played well even though we lost the first set.
“Look, doubles on grass? Anything can happen really quickly. One or two shots can decide the winner, as was the case today. But Xarly played really well when it mattered most. This was his win for sure.”
The wild cards were initially outclassed as the Mutua Madrid Open champions raced through the opening set, winning 92 per cent (22/24) of first serves and 100 per cent of points behind their second serves. Granollers and Zeballos broke the Djokovic serve in the first game, and didn’t face a break point as they took the set 6-4.
Djokovic and Gomez-Herrera raised their level in the second, and the 31-year-old Spaniard fired big serves to save three break points in his opening service game. The pair held firm to save all four break points they faced, as well erase a deciding set point on their opponents’ serve. After edging through in the tie-break, Gomez-Herrera fired another huge serve and backed it up with a booming forehand that went unreturned to take them into the semi-finals.
The new pairing will next face third seeds Oliver Marach and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, who defeated Adrian Mannarino and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela 6-3, 6-4. For Gomez-Herrera, it will be his first ATP Tour semi-final – but the Spaniard was quick to give credit to the World No. 1 after their victory.
“He reached [the semi-finals] himself alone, because I didn’t put a ball [in the court] for two sets,” Gomez-Herrera deflected. “Luckily, thanks again for Novak being there, because for me it’s like a dream. I’m awake, but I’m dreaming. He’s by the court with me, and that means a lot to me.”
At the Viking International Eastbourne, top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic reached their second quarter-final of the grass-court season with a 7-6(5), 7-6(3) victory over Ariel Behar and Gonzalo Escobar. Third seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury also advanced after taking down Frederik Nielsen and Franko Skugor 7-5, 6-3.