Dutch Duo Save Two M.P. For Sofia Title
The Dutch duo survived Philipp Oswald and Adil Shamasdin 5-7, 7-6(9), 10-6, staving off two championship points in the second set tie-break. It was both players' first ATP World Tour doubles titles, rallying from a set down on three occasions during the week. They overcame a total five match points, having saved one against Dimitar Kuzmanov and Alexander Lazov in the first round and two more in beating countrymen Thiemo de Bakker and Robin Haase in the semis.
"They played really well in the beginning," Koolhof said. "Then out of the blue we broke them and we started to return better and I think our returns made the difference in the end."
Koolhof and Middelkoop, who split €25,070 in prize money and 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points, refused to surrender after falling behind a set and a break at 4-1 in the second. They would break back and force a tie-break, where they once again found themselves with their backs against the wall, facing match points at 7-6 and 9-8. A service winner would deny the first and a Koolhof putaway at the net turned aside the second. They would reel off nine of the last 12 points in the ensuing Match Tie-break to emerge victorious after one hour and 47 minutes.
It has been a strong start to the season for Koolhof and Middelkoop after winning the ATP Challenger Tour doubles crown in Bangkok last month. The tandem won seven Challenger doubles titles in 2015.
"I am not sure it is the best tactic but somehow it worked for us this week," said Middelkoop. "We played really solid on all those match points. To win four Match tie-breaks in a row, at that level, is something special.
"Our hopes are for the bigger tournaments but we have to be realistic. We just came from Challengers, pretty much from Futures actually. To win a first ATP World Tour title is the first step to reach higher levels but higher levels mean tougher opponents, so we need new tactics to play against Top 30 guys.”
Oswald and Shamasdin, meanwhile, were bidding for their first title together. The Austrian fell to 3-3 in ATP World Tour doubles finals, while the Canadian dropped to 2-2.