Rojer/Tecau Return To Winners' Circle With Dubai Crown
Former ATP Finals champions Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau ended their title drought on Saturday at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. The Dutch-Romanian duo rallied past Marcin Matkowski and Rohan Bopanna 4-6, 6-3, 10-3 in one hour and 20 minutes to lift the trophy, firing six aces and saving three of four break points.
Rojer and Tecau claimed their first ATP World Tour title since the 2016 Mutua Madrid Open, clinching a 13th crown in total as a team. Two years removed from their triumph at The O2 in London, the tandem are looking to hit their stride once again. They have won titles at five different ATP World Tour 500 events, also including Washington, Beijing and Valencia in 2014 and Rotterdam in 2015. Rojer and Tecau take home $157,570 in prize money and 500 Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings points.
For the Dutchman, it was his 22nd individual doubles title, improving to 5-3 in 500-level finals. His Romanian partner clinched his 30th individual crown and is now 6-5 in 500-level finals.
"It was a difficult match," said Tecau. "Bopanna won here three times. He's obviously enjoying the conditions here and served well at the beginning of the match. He was returning well, too. Made it difficult for us.
"They played a really good game in the first set to break my serve. Other than that, I think the games were pretty clean on serve. That's why we do well. We stay calm. We stay together. We look for solutions. We kept holding our serve. That was the main focus of the second set, to hold serve."
Bopanna and Matkowski looked to be in better form at the start, with the Indian launching a cross-court pass to grab the break for 3-2 and firing an ace to close out the first set.
In a comical moment, with Bopanna and Matkowski facing a break point at 2-1 in the second set, Rojer fired a forehand that got caught in Bopanna's racquet. The 37 year old looked bewildered at his frame as his opponents took the decisive lead. Rojer and Tecau would eventually force a Match Tie-break, where they snatched the initial mini-break for 1-0 and never looked back, securing the title on a Tecau drive volley.
"I think we're on the right track," added Rojer. "I don't know if we set such specific goals this year. I know personally, and I think Horia feels the same, I just want to get better and improve. I feel like last year was not personally one of my best years. I feel like I could have done more.
"I look forward to doing that this year. I want to improve my tennis, improve my game, improve myself, that I can be a better partner for Horia on the court. I think if I have a better version of myself, then we are also a stronger team."
Appearing in their first tournament together, Bopanna and Matkowski split $77,140 and 300 Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings points. Bopanna, who was seeking his fourth Dubai title with a fourth different partner (2012 w/Bhupathi, 2014 w/Qureshi, 2015 w/Nestor), was bidding for his 16th ATP World Tour title. Matkowski, meanwhile, was eyeing his 19th crown.