The Doubles Light Up Halle

By Vanessa Taylor and Simone Kemler

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This year’s Terra Wortmann Open provided an entertaining doubles event with enough national flavour to enthuse the locals.

Three all-German pairs played on the lawn courts of Halle in the ATP 500.

Before the main draw, Henri Squire and Louis Wessels played the qualies, losing 8-10 in the match tiebreak in front of a large and vocal crowd.

Next, the established German team of Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz, the fourth seeds, had been surprisingly defeated in the first round by the wildcard combination of fellow German Andreas Miles and Brazilian Marcel Demoliner.

So local hopes depended on wildcards Oscar Otte and Jan-Lennard Struff, who made it to the semis to face Brazil’s Marcelo Melo and Australian John Peers.

Marcelo Melo and John Peers discussing tactics. Photo: Mathias Schulz

Otte and Struff are better known for their individual efforts in singles but had made the Munich doubles quarters in April.

Played in front a full house on centre court – the biggest crowd for doubles in Halle for years – the match was thrilling as both sets could have gone either way.

Since none of the players lost serve, each set needed a tiebreak.

In the first set, Melo and Peers led 5-3 until Struff’s powerful serving brought the Germans to 6-6. There were some narrow misses for both teams in the tiebreak but Melo and Peers took it 7-5.

Jan-Lenard Struff serving. Photo: Mathias Schulz

Otte lifted in the second set and held serve to love for 3-2. The set stayed on serve and was at 5-4 when the DJ played “Viva Colonia” at the sit down. Although the lyrics are in a Cologne dialect, all Germany knows this song and the crowd belted it out to pump up Cologne boy Otte. But the opposition held firm and levelled to 5-5.

After holding to love for 6-5, Struff gestured to the crowd to rev up even more, hoping their raucous encouragement would get his team over the line. When Peers served a double fault in the next game, the crowd as one let up an enormous cheer.

But Melo and Peers played some wonderful shots, with the Australian often splitting the other pair with winning volleys through the middle.

In the tiebreak, Otte / Struff took advantage of errant lobs to go up 4-1. But Melo’s volleying, which had been outstanding all match, got his team consecutive points for 4-4.

A double fault by Otte saw them fall behind in this tiebreak for the first time. With an ace and the gift of an error, Melo / Peers made it to the final.

The teams at the end of the semi. Photo: Mathias Schulz

Between them, they had won 63 doubles titles but not yet a title together in six tournaments.

Having conquered the valiant Germans, Melo and Peers would face an Italian team, Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori.

The Italians have only been playing together since the beginning of the grass court season. In ‘s-Hertogenbosch the previous week, they lost in the first round.

Bolelli’s regular partner is Fabio Fognini – who hasn’t entered any grass tournaments as he awaits news of a possible ban for missing anti-doping tests – while Vavassori mostly plays with Marcelo Demoliner or Andrea Pellegrino.

Marcelo Melo and John Peers (right) defeated Andrea Vavassori and Simone Bolelli for the doubles title. Photo: Mathias Schulz

As often happens, the final did not live up to the standard of the semi, though it was still a close and enjoyable match.

The Italians communicated well and threw everything at the match but couldn’t pull it off.

Again, tiebreaks were necessary. The first set went to Melo / Peers 7-6(3).

The next set was 6-3 to the Italians, so a match tiebreak was needed. Melo and Peers both played the big points well and claimed it 10-4.

Although they were unable to convert any of their six break points during games, they became extra focused in the tiebreaks perhaps due to the practice they got during the tournament.

All of their matches were won in match tiebreaks, except the semi which still had two regular tiebreaks.

“So for us to get through such tight matches was a great effort from us as a team,” Peers said, “and I think hopefully it leaves us in good stead going forward.” 

The 39-year-old Melo added, “Halle is a really good place for me.” This was his third doubles title at the tournament.

Title photo by ATP

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