Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert are at the top of the worldApril 25, 2016
Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic weren't playing at the Monte Carlo Country Club last week. It was the venue of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, which kicked off the clay-court season in Europe. Tomic is the top seed in the BRD NÄƒstase Èširiac Trophy (in Bucharest), which is currently on play, while Kyrgios will compete in next week's Estoril Open.
It was a great day for the hometown players, as the resurgent GaÃ«l Monfils reached the finals of the men's singles. He was the first French player to do it since CÃ©dric Pioline in 2000. Monfils lost to Rafael Nadal, who scooped his ninth Monte Carlo Rolex Masters trophy. The men's doubles final preceded the men's singles, and there was lots of buzz during the trophy presentation ceremony. Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert became the first French team to win the title since Guy Forget and Yannick Noah in 1986. It was the third straight Masters 1000 title for Mahut and Herbert. The win put them on top of the ATP Doubles Race.
"We were playing well and we also had some luck," Mahut said.
Bob and Mike Bryan were the last (doubles) team to achieve the feat. They did it two years ago.
Then and now
The Bryan Brothers could have won four straight Masters 1000 titles, but they lost to Daniel Nestor and Nenad ZimonjiÄ‡ in the finals of the Mutua Madrid Open. Nonetheless, it was a stellar 2014 season for the siblings. Six Masters 1000 titles, the US Open, and their fourth ATP World Tour Finals trophy. Julien Benneteau and Ã‰douard Roger-Vasselin were one of the few teams who challenged the siblings. They won the French Open, ending a thirty-year drought of victories by French players at Roland Garros. Injury forced Benneteau to miss much of the 2015 season, and it would remain to be seen if he could compete this year.
Without a doubt, the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters would make Mahut and Herbert the most successful French doubles team in the Open Era. They may have missed the qualifying draw of the Barcelona Open, but they would have enough time to prepare for the Mutua Madrid Open. (The qualifying draw will be held this weekend.) It's too early to tell if Mahut and Herbert will qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals, but their strong case should make Yannick Noah think twice about the Davis Cup tie this July.
France will travel to the Czech Republic for the quarterfinal tie, and it's likely that the Czech Tennis Federation will choose an indoor hard court. It will favour TomÃ¡Å¡ Berdych, Radek Å tÄ›pÃ¡nek, JiÅ™Ã VeselÃ½, and LukÃ¡Å¡ Rosol, the current members of the Czech team. Noah, the 1983 French Open champion, must make a tough decision, where he'll retain Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or pick Mahut and Herbert. It will be sensible to choose Gasquet and Tsonga, as they can be available for the singles rubber. But it's hard to tell if both players have a winning chance against Berdych. (The Olympics change the outcome.) On the other hand, the doubles rubber is a crucial match. As past results have shown, any team who clinches the victory in the doubles will win the tie.
When Mahut was asked about it, he'd rather not tell much. It might have something to do with what happened last year. (France lost to Great Britain, the eventual winner, in the quarterfinals. The French were supposed to win the doubles, but Arnaud Clement picked Mahut and Tsonga. Andy and Jamie Murray beat them.) Furthermore, Mahut and Herbert are not yet guaranteed of competing in the Rio Olympics. But the results these past eight months should be good enough for the French tennis federation.
Will Mahut and Herbert match the 2014 season of the Bryan Brothers? Do you think they should play in the Davis Cup? Tell us about it.
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