After an action-packed month of tennis on U.S. soil in Indian Wells, Miami, Charleston, and Houston, we saw a lot of exciting doubles developments come to fruition on both the men’s and women’s tours. From inaugural No. 1s being crowned to new teams emerging and top singles players like John Isner finding success in doubles, here are five storylines to keep an eye on as we officially kick off the clay court season this week.
1. Joe Salisbury crowned new No. 1
After making semifinal and quarterfinal appearances at Indian Wells and the Miami Open with partner Rajeev Ram, 29-year-old Joe Salisbury recently became the newly minted No. 1 ATP doubles player. Salisbury passed Mate Pavic, who has struggled to keep up his impressive 2021 form alongside fellow Croatian partner Nikola Mektic.
Salisbury and Ram have arguably been the most consistent doubles team at the top of the men’s game since teaming up in 2019. Both are former NCAA standouts at the University of Memphis (Salisbury) and the University of Illinois (Ram) who have enjoyed successful careers on the professional doubles tour.
With two major titles and a Masters 1000 title under their belt, Salisbury and Ram have won at least one title every year while playing together. Look for them to continue making a big splash this summer in their fourth consecutive year as a doubles partnership.
Joe Salisbury: By the Numbers
- 4 majors (two men’s doubles, two mixed doubles with Desirae Krawczyk)
- 9-6 record in 2022
- 8 career doubles titles
2. WTA sees parity with key players absent
After claiming the 2021 WTA Championships and 2022 Australian Open, it seemed like the top-ranked Czech duo of Katerina Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova were poised for a dominant year ahead. With Krejcikova currently sidelined and having recently missed the Sunshine Double swing, this opened up more opportunities for the rest of the field to capitalize.
- The unseeded Chinese team of Xu Yifan and Yang Zhaoxuan captured their first WTA doubles title at Indian Wells beating Muhammad/Shibahara 7-5, 7-6.
- Vera Zvonareva/Laura Siegemund, 2020 U.S. Open doubles champions, took home the Miami Open crown with a 7-6, 7-5 win over Kudermetova/Mertens.
- No. 4 Magda Linette/Andreja Klepac won the Credit One Charleston Open over Sania Mirza/Lucie Hradecka 6-2, 4-6, 10-7.
Who else has been missing in action lately besides Krejcikova?
- No. 4 Hsieh Su-wei (expecting a baby)
- No. 19 Luisa Stefani (injury)
- No. 24 Nicole Melichar-Martinez (injury)
- No. 27 Bethanie Mattek-Sands (taking time off and focusing on singles comeback)
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While we look forward to the return of many top doubles players, a mix of compelling teams have formed this year in their absence. Keep an eye out for Gaby Dabrowski/Gugu Olmos, Ena Shibahara/Asia Muhammad, and Desirae Krawczyk/Demi Schuurs to continue making a dent on the doubles circuit if they keep playing together.
3. Isner leads “singles takeover” in doubles field
One of the more surprising doubles storylines of 2022? American John Isner captured the “Doubles Sunshine Double” at Indian Wells and Miami with different partners.
Isner and Jack Sock, who many consider to be the best doubles player in the world right now, capped off an impressive run at Indian Wells defeating Santiago Gonzalez and Eduardo Roger-Vasselin 7-6(4), 6-3 in the finals. Along the way, they knocked off a lineup of formidable teams including Mektic/Pavic, Kyrgios/Kokkinakis, Lopez/Tsistipas, and Golubev/Zverevev.
In Miami, Isner partnered with fellow top singles player Hubert Hurkacz of Poland to defeat the red-hot team of Neal Skupski and Wesley Koolhoff 7-6(5), 6-4. As a result, Isner moved up to No. 28 in the doubles rankings, only a few spots behind his current singles ranking of No. 23 (as of April 11, 2022).
With Isner’s singles career likely approaching the finish line soon, you wonder if his recent doubles success makes him think “what if?” whenever he decides to hang up his singles racquets.
With his serve, size, and ability to play well with multiple partners, could we see him extend his career to strictly be a doubles specialist?
By the Numbers
- 2022 doubles record: 16-3
- 2022 doubles prize money: $463K
- Current doubles rank: 28
- Career doubles titles: 8
Along with Isner, other predominantly singles players have made a big splash on the doubles circuit this year including 2022 Australian Open champions, Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis (“Special K”), Aslan Karatsev and Andrey Rublev, Stefano Tsitspias, Alexander Zverev, and many others. Will we continue to see a “singles takeover” on clay and grass?
4. McCoco Eyes First Major Title
In just a few short years playing together, the young American duo of Coco Gauff and Caty McNally have arguably become the biggest crowd favorites and the most marquee team in doubles right now on either tour. They finished with consistent results at both Sunshine Doubles events, making the quarterfinals at Indian Wells and semifinals in Miami, but fell to more experienced teams in super tie-breakers on both occasions.
Both Gauff and McNally are sitting on the edge of the Top 10 in the current rankings, with Gauff at No. 10 and McNally at No. 13 (as of April 11, 2022). On the heels of a 2021 U.S. open runner-up performance, are they ready to capture their first major together in 2022?
If McCoco keeps playing together consistently, they are well on their way to becoming the new face of doubles in a post-Bryan Brothers era.
5. Trending and Slumping Teams
There’s no question the hottest ATP doubles team of the year thus far is the new partnership of Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski. With three titles, a runner-up finish in Miami, and a 23-6 record on the year, they have quickly established themselves as the team to beat right now.
Can they build on the momentum and capture their first major title together? If nothing else, their matching pink shorts have caught the eyes of the crowd and generated conversations on social media.
On the flip side, the Croatian duo of Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic have not gotten off to a winning start in 2022 with a 6-6 record and zero titles on the year. In 2021, they were the most dominant team on tour finishing with a 65-14 record, nine titles (including Wimbledon), and an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo.
With a massive amount of points to defend during the clay and grass court swing, let’s hope they find their 2021 mojo and remain at the top of the doubles game. Or else, could we see a potential partnership split? Some doubles experts like Van Sias wouldn’t be surprised.
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