© AFP/Getty Images

Max Mirnyi is a two-time Nitto ATP Finals champion.

Max Mirnyi Previews Doubles At The Nitto ATP Finals

Two-time champ has a group named after him this year

Max Mirnyi accomplished a lot in his professional career in both singles and doubles. In doubles, the Belarusian reached World No. 1 and lifted 52 tour-level trophies, qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals on 10 occasions. Although he retired after last season, Mirnyi’s mark remains, with one of this year’s doubles groups at the season finale being named ‘Group Max Mirnyi’.

“I definitely did not expect that and it’s so flattering to see that take place,” Mirnyi told ATPTour.com. “It certainly brings a big honour out of me to see that happen.”

Mirnyi won this tournament twice; once in 2006 with Jonas Bjorkman — whom this year’s second doubles group is named after — and again in 2011 alongside Daniel Nestor. So ‘The Beast’ knows what it takes to succeed at the Nitto ATP Finals.

“I would probably say that especially for those that are not experienced to realise that you’re not done and over until it’s finished. I’ve seen so many scenarios throughout the years that teams have played and have lost the first match or sometimes have even lost the first two matches, but because of the virtue of the other members of the group not doing as well or the game count or whatever the scenario might be, you always have a chance to come through to the semi-finals and I think it’s important to have a clear understanding of that,” Mirnyi said. “Every game counts. Sometimes when you know you’re winning and you might be comfortable, being something like a set and a break up, then you just maybe let a few games loose. You don’t know if those games could play a factor in you advancing or not.”

Mirnyi believes that it is nice for the teams to have multiple opportunities to bring their best to the court, so that one tough loss doesn’t necessarily prevent them from finding a rhythm and posing a threat at The O2 in London.

“It’s a good format because you know that you always have a chance to advance,” Mirnyi said. “It keeps you as a player as well as the fans in suspense until the very end most of the time, especially in doubles.”

Mirnyi took a look at all eight teams ahead of the season finale.

<a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/tournaments/nitto-atp-finals/605/overview'>Nitto ATP Finals</a> 2019 doubles group photo

Juan Sebastian Cabal & Robert Farah
I’ve always liked the fact that you’re committed to one partner and the longer you stay with that partner, the longer you can also develop your winning strategy. But the fact that everybody is switching very frequently nowadays plays into the hands of a team like Cabal and Farah. They’re only strengthening as a team and often you see guys switching around.

It’s also challenging for a fresh team to have to oppose a team as dominant as Cabal/Farah. I have been a very big fan of Juan Sebastian and Robert for many years because they’ve shown a tremendous commitment over the years, I’ve known them for a very long time. We’ve spent many training camps together in Florida. They’ve gone to the IMG Academy in Florida many times.

I kind of put them a little bit aside from everybody else because right before, it’s only these couple years that they’ve kind of hit their stride and started winning the big titles and gotten to the top of the rankings. But for many years they’ve worked with a doubles coach, they’ve had a fitness coach and they were doing what it takes to be good in our sport and I was just waiting and anticipating when that success would come their way so the extent that it did this year. I’m actually very happy to see them at the top of the rankings.

I think this is what the new and upcoming players need to see and realise, that commitment is probably the biggest asset you have, whether you’re playing singles or doubles, it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to do the right things and the Colombians are definitely setting that example of how doubles needs to be addressed and they definitely deserve every bit of the glory they’re getting now.

Lukasz Kubot & Marcelo Melo
I played against them last year in Halle with Philipp Oswald and we actually had a very good chance at winning that match, but in the crucial moments they were just more solid, the better team and the team that didn’t create unnecessary errors in the Match Tie-break.

They’re showing overall a better level. The fact that they’re patient to stay with one another, because I know Marcelo had an injury issue throughout last year, [shows a lot]. Lukasz, while working on his own game, was giving a lot of support to his partner and waiting for him to come back and playing through some of those earlier weeks of their comeback. I believe that is the most challenging time in a partnership, when one is coming back from an injury, it’s so easy to get negative and say listen I’m sacrificing my weeks and losing my ranking and you’re just building up your strength again. This is the credit that good teams should get for sticking with one another through tough times of the year.

Kevin Krawietz/Andreas Mies
I actually got to see the German pair quite a bit during the past couple of years and I was not surprised that they won the French Open. They’re good players, they put a good team effort and overall have a good perspective on doubles.

Joe Salisbury
When he was in school he got a wild card into the Memphis tournament in 2017 when I was playing with Treat Huey. I did get a feel for him and the past couple of years when I was on Tour I definitely noticed that he was one who had a good potential to do well in doubles. I’m happy to see him having a good year with my good friend Rajeev Ram.

Rajeev Ram Being In Same Group As Former London Partner Raven Klaasen
It’s the nature of doubles. Normally you have a group of 15, 20, 30 guys who are better than everyone else and as time goes on you tend to give yourself a chance to do well with one partner and then when time runs on, you get studied. The field is very competitive and the longer you give a chance to everyone else to analyze your advantages and disadvantages, at some point you start winning less and less and less and less and you come to a decision of moving on and trying to find a better match that can suit you and your partner.

I guess it’s a little bit ironic that they’re on the other side of the net in the same group. But it’s not something new that they’re not used to… I’m sure they’ll handle it in a professional manner and probably go for dinner together once the match is over.

Jean-Julien Rojer & Horia Tecau
I’m friends with both of them and from a personal, human perspective, they are very different personalities and to see them blend as well as they have and to see them be as patient as they have been is certainly rewarding. They see the reward coming their way every now and then.

They maybe would have liked to win more as natural for anybody competing out there. But the fact that they’ve made it back to the Nitto ATP Finals [shows the] significance of their professionalism, commitment to one another and overall improving as tennis players. The longer you stay together, there is more studying availability for those you play against, and the fact that they’re continuing to do well just shows that everybody is out there willing to improve and there are no exceptions.

You May Also Like: The Legacy Of Max 'The Beast' Mirnyi

Pierre-Hugues Herbert & Nicolas Mahut
It’s good to see those guys back. I’m very happy for Nico that he’s still able to be at the top level of the game. It’s a little bit surprising to see how quickly they caught fire [in Paris] after Nico was partnering with someone else.

They’re a good team. They’ve shown already with a lot of good results that they can win on every surface against any team.

Nico is probably more of a representative of an older generation that played tennis in a classical way where you utilise your slice, where maybe the shots are hit flatter than the younger generation. It’s great to see Nico improve over the years… now he’s still probably believing that he’s got a good couple years ahead of him, that’s for sure, and it’s good to see that.

Ivan Dodig & Filip Polasek
I’m very happy to see somebody who was already a good player a while ago in Filip Polasek get his head cleared and realise this is an incredible opportunity to be a doubles player and use that opportunity to have a good living and a way to compete. He’s showing to many players out there who ever had any doubt about pursuing a doubles career that this is the way it’s done and you can be relatively in the latest stages of your career and still be successful if you still have your full commitment.

I definitely saw that in Polasek and his approach to the game at the end of last year when I had to play him in Davis Cup and throughout this year with different partners. Anybody that he’s played with he’s showed he belongs among the top [players].

He was always a dangerous player. He was always a strong-hitting player. He had a great serve and great returns. The only thing I see is that he’s much more disciplined now. Maybe he’s approaching doubles in a different way where he knows that every point is of so much value whereas before he was much more erratic and would have more unforced errors. This is my perception.

His strokes look the same, but he’s much more committed to understanding what needs to happen on the doubles court. He is probably more committed to working with one partner and developing some plays whereas before he was maybe more just deciding on the go what to do, what play to use. Now it is much more systematical.