It was one of the quieter weeks on the tour as many of the futures players decided to have a rest after the string of British tournaments. For some though, this week has proved a marvellous opportunity to continue putting together some excellent form, and a few players will wish February had more than just one extra day!
Ken and Neal Skupski: Challenger La Manche (Cherbourg): Champions
It’s turning out to be quite a February for the British duo as they sweep up their second challenger title in just three weeks. Their superb form shows no sign of stopping as they stormed through their first three matches, reaching the final without dropping a set. In they final, they demonstrate their adversity, recovering after dropping the opening set to take a deciding tie-break 10-6 and take home their second silverware on the season.
— Zainab Walji (@xenon21) February 28, 2016
The pair were the top seeds and now, with no ranking points to defend until June, have to be looking to push on to a more regular spot on the ATP Tour. Mixing it on the Challenger circuit is finally proving to be too simple for the boys and so expect to see them tackling more challenging opposition in the weeks to come.
Tara Moore (w/ Conny Perrin): $25,000 Sao Paolo: Runners-Up
Is it time Tara Moore switched her focus to the doubles circuit? In the last few weeks she is certainly proving she is more than capable of producing a strong game. Last week’s hero is back again, unfortunately with the same result though as she fell once again in the final.
Tara Moore before WTA Rio had won 212 WTA doubles points in the last year.. in Rio & Sao Paulo combined she has won 210 already.. improving!
— Chris Goldsmith (@TheTennisTalker) February 25, 2016
However, it is worth noting now that Tara’s doubles rankings is far above her singles ranking and is also higher than it has ever been before. Currently, Tara sits at 321 in the world in singles but nearly half that at 172 in the doubles rankings. Before this year, the 23-year-old had never broken the top #200 in the doubles rankings but as her partnership with Conny Perrin blossoms, perhaps it’s time to consider following it up.
The Skupski’s superb performance stands in stark contrast to the fortunes of the rest of the Brits chancing their arm this week. In Dubai, Jamie Murray was back in action – again without Bruno Soares who was competing down in his home country of Brazil. Instead, the older Murray sibling was paired with Tommy Robredo. The Scot will have taken some solace from narrowly winning his opening round match against former partner John Peers and his new partner Henri Kontinen. However, he was abruptly halted in the next round by eventual winners Simone Bolelli and Andreas Seppi. Dom Inglot fared no better, as he and Robert Lindstedt crashed out in the opening round to record their first opening round loss of the year.
Acapulco was the other destination for a couple of Brits as Colin Fleming and Aljaz Bedene both took to the Mexico courts. Bedene found himself alongside big-serving Gilles Muller and the pair navigated through their first round tie before falling in the quarter-finals to Juan Sebastien Cabal and Robert Farah, losing 10-4 during the deciding tie-break. Fleming meanwhile had an intriguing encounter Mate Pavic and Michael Venus, the pair who defeated him and Jonathan Elrich just a few days earlier in the final of the ATP 250 in Marseille. They were able to get revenge, squeezing out an 11-9 tie-break victory, however the emotional effort of that first tie proved too draining as they succumbed to a comfortable loss in the quarter-finals.
There was to be no Tara Moore-esque heroics on the WTA Tour this week as the three pairs involving British players failed to win a match. Heather Watson and Johanna Konta continue to team up as they seek a spot in the doubles field in Rio during the summer but fell in the opening round, losing an excruciating tie-break 10-8 in the final set. Anna Smith and Jocelyn Rae are also still adapting to regular life on the WTA Tour and they lost comfortably in their first round tie.
There was no better luck for Naomi Broady in Qatar, as she won just six games with her partner in their first round defeat.
There was disappointment for the two Brits with seedings this week as neither lived up to their billing. In Egypt, Evan Hoyt was the third seed alongside Vasko Mladenov but was upset in his quarter-final encounter against an unseeded pair. In all honestly though, it is unlikely Hoyt would have been able to play had he won as he withdrew from the singles injured.
Amanda Carreras couldn’t back up last week’s final appearance as she also fell a round earlier than her seeding suggested in Spain. Alongside regular partner, Alice Savoretti, the number two seeds were bidding to reach back-to-back finals. However, they were upset in a thriller which they lost 12-10 in the deciding tie-break. Two other Brits also received wildcards into the tournament but managed just four games between them. Tanysha Dissanayake partnered Russian, Daniella Medvedeva, but lost to the top seeds whilst Crystal Sutar and her Kazak partner also tumbled out to the duo who upset Amanda.
Freya Christie and Katy Dunne continued their Australian swing with an opening round victory over a pair of Australian wildcards. However, they suffered disappointment in round two, being broken at the business end of each set to lose 7-5 7-5. Lisa Whybourn is also still with them down under, but she fell in the opening round to the second seeds.
The only other Brit to secure a win was the ever-playing Mirabelle Njoze in Tunisia, as she and Nelise Verster defeated a pair of Swedish wildcards to advance to the quarter-finals. Unfortunately their tournament was ended there as they were comfortably dispatched by the third seeds.
Toby Martin was the final Brit in action but his doubles venture for the week ended before he had a chance to blink, as he fell 6-3 6-1 alongside Israeli Alon Elia.
Next week sees a depleted fixture list as the Davis Cup means only one challenger tournament is going ahead on the ATP side of things. However with Ken and Neal participating, could we be celebrating back-to-back titles?