Dubai: Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau became the first pair to successfully defend their men’s doubles title in the Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open on Saturday.
Rojer and Tecau, who had defeated Rohan Bopanna and Marcin Matkowski in the last year’s final, got the better of Leander Paes and Jamie Cerretani 6-2, 7-6 (2) to lift their 17th doubles crown together as a pair. The winners took home a cheque for $170,270 (Dh622,000) along with the 500 ranking points, while the runners-up got 300 points and $83,360.
The Indian trio of Mahesh Bhupathi, Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna along with Daniel Nestor of Canada, Sandon Stolle and Fabrice Santoro are among those who have won the doubles here more than once but none of these players feature as back-to-back champions with their same partner.
“It means a lot because this tournament always has a strong doubles field. Winning here two years in-a-row, it’s a great accomplishment for us. Always have to beat some big servers on these fast conditions. That’s very good for confidence to win here twice,” Tecau said.
“But Dubai is also one place that we enjoy coming to. It’s a great city, a great tournament that is well-organised. Everybody is really helpful and it makes one feel like home. It’s a pleasure to play here. We’re doubly happy to win,” he added.
Losing semi-finalists in Rotterdam last week, Tecau and Rojer were pleased to win one this week. “We played three matches last week, I guess four this week again. We won a few there. We played some good matches already last week. I think for sure it helps the confidence. It helps to win some of these matches,” Rojer said.
“In the first round, here we won in a super tie-break. That’s always a confidence-builder. It’s a few points here and there. Once you have a few matches under your belt, you feel a little bit better, more comfortable, let’s say you play a bit more freely, you’re a bit more confident. It’ really nice to start off the year like this. I know we did almost the same exact result last year. More importantly the aim is to try and get better each week,” the Dutchman added.
The legendary Paes, who has already won one title in the company of his American partner, was convinced they had been beaten by a superior pair. “I actually thought that the boys started off on fire. They must have hit about five, six net cords which fell in their favour. They hit one miss-hit backhand return shot cross-court. That’s the margins you play with in professional tennis, in the scoring format. One or two shots in their favour or our favour and the momentum would have switched. I thought they started out really well,” Paes explained.
“The fun part about Jamie and myself, no matter what happens, we’re always there pushing each other, supporting each other. We got each other’s backs. We’re intelligent enough to know what’s happening on the court while it’s happening so we can turn our strategy,” he added.