Halle Doubles Couldn’t Have Been Scripted Better - UBITENNIS
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Halle Doubles Couldn’t Have Been Scripted Better



Alexander Zverev was a beaten finalist in both the singles and doubles in Halle (Zimbio.com)

The Gerry Weber Open doubles final, in Halle, Germany, couldn’t have been scripted any better. Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Marcelo Melo of Brazil, the No. 1 seeds, faced Alexander and Mischa Zverev, the unseeded hometown heroes, (even though they are from Hamburg). The match-up featured Kubot and Melo, the top team in the Emirates ATP Doubles Race to London against the brothers, who had upset Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Rajeev Ram of the US, the two-time defending champions, in the semifinals, 6-3, 6-3.

The teams had one previous encounter, which took place this year at the ATP Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo. The Polish/Brazilian tandem were victorious, 6-1, 6-7, 14-12. Going into the final, they had a 26-9 record in 2017. The Zverevs were 10-5 for the season, and had claimed the Open Sud De France title in early February in Montpellier.

Kubot and Melo brought the curtain down on the 2017 Gerry Weber Open, winning a thrilling contest, 5-7, 6-3, 10-8 over the Brothers Zverev. This, of course, was after the younger Zverev took a 6-1, 6-3 lesson from Roger Federer in the singles final.

Zverev had been looking to match a “royal” record established in 2005. Naturally, Federer, who has a lifetime contract at the Gerry Weber Open, set the standard. Twelve years ago, he defeated Marat Safin of Russia, 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 for the singles trophy then teamed with countryman, Yves Allegro to down Joachim Johansson of Sweden and Safin, 7-5, 6-7, 6-3 and score the only Halle double in history. Older brother, Misha Zverev wanted to duplicate the success he had in 2008 when, with Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, joined forces to defeat Lukáš Dlouhý of the Czech Republic and Leander Paes of India, 4-6, 6-3, 10-3.

Halle, the ATP Tour 500 series tournament, always showcases the game’s top international stars. Saying that the competition is first rate understates the quality found in the draws, annually. The fact that Alexander Zverev dropped both singles and doubles finals puts him a rarefied group of players. Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia was doubled down on the Gerry Weber Stadion grass in 1996. He was defeated by Nicklas Kulti of Sweden 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 in the singles final, and then lost with Daniel Vacek of the Czech Republic when he came up 6-1, 7-5 short against Byron Black of Zimbabwe and Grant Connell of Canada in the doubles battle. (Safin also had a “double loss” Sunday in 2005.)

In order to complete the Halle history course, it should be noted that, that in 2000, David Prinosil of Germany stopped Richard Krajicek of the Netherlands, 6-3, 6-2 for singles honors, but was a 7-6, 7-6 finalist, with Mahesh Bhupathi of India, against the Swedish tandem Nicklas Kulti and Mikael Tillström. Federer downed Alejandro Falla of Colombia, 7-6, 7-6 in the 2014 singles final. Andre Begemann of Germany and Julian Knowle of Austria kept the legend from adding to his stellar Halle record by scoring a 1-6, 7-5, 12-10 over the singles winner and his Basel pal, Marco Chiudinelli.

The 25th Gerry Weber Open was historic. Roger Federer, along with Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, claimed the trophies, but Alexander Zverev gave every indication why he is not only the game’s future, but a resource Halle will treasure for years to come.

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Andrey Rublev comes back from one set down to beat Zhang Zhizhen in Dubai



Number 2 seed Andrey Rublev came back from one set down to beat Zhang Zhizhen 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 6-4 in 1 hour and 51 minutes at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. 

Rublev hit 18 aces and saved both break points he faced to improve to 2-0 in in his head-to-to-head series against Zhang Zhizhen. 

The first set went on serve with no breaks of serve en route to the tie-break. Rublev opened up a 4-1 lead, but Zhang Zhizhen won six consecutive points to win the tie-break 7-4. 

Rublev broke twice in the third and seventh games to win the  second set 6-2. 

Rublev broke in the third game of the decider. Zhang Zhizhen earned two break-back points in the fourth game but Rublev saved them. Rublev held on his next service games and sealed the win on his first match point. 

“I was so happy because the conditions were super tough. He played amazing in the first set. He was not missing at all on serve, serving 220 and it was so tough to return and do something on return. I am happy that I was able to be there and as soon as I had a chance in second set I was able to take it”, said Rublev. 

Hubert Hurkacz saved all six break points to battle past Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (8-6) in 2 hours and 40 minutes. Struff saved the three break points he faced. 

Hurkacz earned two mini-breaks to take a 5-2 lead in the tie-break. Struff pulled back one serve for 3-5 but Hurkacz sealed the first set on his third set point. Hurkacz saved three break points in the 12th game. Struff earned two mini-breaks to win the second tie-break 7-4. Both players saved break points in the first two games of the third set. Struff earned two match points at 6-4 in the tie-break, but Hurkacz won four consecutive points to win the decisive tie-break 8-6. 

Botic Van de Zandschulp edged Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 to clinch his first win against a top 20 opponent. Van de Zandschulp set up a second round match against Sebastian Korda, who cruised past Pavel Kotov 6-0 6-2. 

Van de Zandschulp earned the first break to take a 2-1 lead. Mannarino saved a break point at 1-3. Mannarino broke back to draw level to 3-3. Both players traded breaks in the 11th and 12th games. Van de Zandschulp earned two mini-breaks to take a 5-1 lead in the tie-break. Mannarino pulled one mini-break back, but Van de Zandschulp eanred another mini-break to win the tie-break 7-3. The second went on serve until the 12th game, when Van de Zandschulp earned the decisive break. 

This year’s Montpellier champion Alexander Bublik came back from one set down to beat Tomas Machac 2-6 6-3 7-6 (7-5). Bublik set up a second round match against either Tallon Griekspoor or Abdullah Shelbayh. 

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Karen Khachanov wins his sixth career title in Doha



Karen Khachanov beat Czech Next Gen Jakub Mesnik 7-6 (14-12) 6-4 to clinch his the sixth title of his career and the first of his career. Khachanov did not drop a set during this week. 

Khachanov saved four set points in the first set before hitting a forehand return to seal the first set on his fourth set point. 

Khachanov broke serve in the opening game of the second set. The Russian player did not face a break point in the whole match and won 83% of his first serve points. 

Khachanov claimed his first ATP title since Zhuhai last September. 

“Every title is a special one. Every time, you want to win. We play around 22 tournaments per season and at the end of the day, you compete every week. For sure here in Doha here in Doha it is one of the nicest trophies”, said Khachanov. 

Mesnik made a major breakthrough this week beating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and three former Doha champions Andy Murray, Andrey Rublev and Gael Monfils en route to his first tour level final. Mesnik is projected to a career-high number 87 in the ATP Ranking. He is currently in the lead in the ATP Race to Jeddah. 

“For sure this week will be unforgettable for me. From the beginning, I did not even get to the tournament on my own ranking. I had to use the Next Gen spot, so I tried to enjoy every moment on the court. I did not expect that I will go through to the final. I am really happy with my performance”, said Mesnik. 

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Jasmine Paolini wins the first WTA 1000 title of her career in Dubai



Jasmine Paolini came back from one set down to beat qualifier Anna kalinskaya 4-6 7-5 7-5 in 2 hours and 13 minutes in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. 

Paolini rallied from one break down in each of the second and third sets to clinch he the second WTA Tour title of her career and her first trophy at WTA 1000 level. Paolini has become the third Italian player to win a WTA 1000 title following in the footsteps of Flavia Pennetta in Indian Wells in 2014 and Camila Giorgi in Montreal 2021. 

Kalinskaya earned an early break in the first game of the opening set. Paolini broke back in the fifth and sixth games. 

Kalinskaya broke serve in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead with a passing winner and closed out the first set at 15. 

Kalinskaya broke Paolini with a return winner in the opening game to build up a 6-4 3-1 lead. Paolini slammed a return winner to break back for 3-3. Paolini forced and error on set point with a crosscourt backhand to break serve in the 12th game. 

The third set started with three consecutive breaks. Kalinskaya broke for the second time in the third game and held at 15 with an ace in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead.  Paolini broke back in the 10th game  to draw level to 5-5 when Kalinskaya was serving for the match. 

Paolini earned three championships point at 6-5 after Kalinskaya made a double fault. 

Paolini drew a long error from Kalinskaya on the first match point. 

Paolini wo 60% of her first serve points.

Paolini beat Kalinskaya in Portoroz in 2021 en route to winning the first WTA title of her career. The Italian player played in three more finals in Cluj Napoca, Palermo and Monastir, but she lost all of them. Kalinskaya beat Paolini in the Round of 16 at last January’s Australian Open. 

Paolini has become the second Italian player to win the Dubai title after Sara Erraini claimed this trophy in 2016. The Italian player is projected to move into the top 15 in the WTA Ranking. 

“I am really happy how I managed to come back. It’s unbelievable. I don’t know. I am just so happy. I am proud of all the work I made this year. It’s not easy to bring this work in the match sometimes. I am playing good tennis. I played well at the end of the last season I started the season well with the second week at the Australian Open. Now I try to be more relaxed on court, to try to think more what I have to do, to be more present every point. I think it works. It’s not going to be every week like this, but I am going to do my best”, said Paolini during the post match press conference. 

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