Tata Open Maharashtra: Haase-Middelkoop pair wins doubles title

The Dutch pair triumphed over the French boys 7-6, 7-6 to lay hands on the title; Simon, due to his singles feat, was a favourite along with partner Herbert, but they eventually ran out of gas.

Robin Haase with partner Middelkoop after winning the doubles title in Pune on Saturday.   -  R. Ragu

Though the crowd fizzled out by the time the doubles final, between Gilles Simon/Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Robin Haase/Matwe Middelkoop, commenced, the thrill didn’t die.

Simon, who quickly switched his doubles mode on, kept receiving accolades from the spectators present for his singles feat. Of course, he and his partner were favourites. But in the end, it was the Dutch pair who crossed the line. They triumphed over the French boys 7-6, 7-6 to lay hands on their maiden Tata Open Maharashtra title here at the Balewadi Stadium on Saturday.

Haase brought his experience into play as he kept creating sharp angles, capitalised on the volleys and drop shots to bag points.

READ: Simon overcomes Anderson to claim title

Both the sets were a tight affair; Simon knew it. He kept whispering to Herbert and ruled the net, when needed. They were almost staging a comeback, after being 6-5 down but the Dutch pair was too strong to deceive.

Middelkoop, however, created the moment of the day, when he missed a sitter from the French duo. He swung the racquet in the air thrice, as if to undo the point lost.

Simon and Herbert won the first game of the second set, before Haase wore his net man jacket. The subtle angular shots helped them double the lead. He kept repeating the strategy throughout the game. Herbert, by then, had started answering with volleys.

Simon missed a volley in the deciding set, which almost wrapped up the affair. Haase/Middelkoop rose from 1-0 to 3-0, the French duo soon made it 6-5 but they eventually ran out of gas.

But spare a thought for Simon, the fight was still a remarkable one.

After the victory, Matwe said: "The atmosphere in the stadium, playing with three unbelievable athletes, was an honour. This is my fifth title and I want to come back here next year. The crowd celebrates tennis here. They help us as much as they can."

"Simon was hitting good shots from the back and Herbert is a world class doubles player. We were lucky in the beginning of the first set, as well as the second set, Robin played some amazing tennis. The way we won the tie-breaks were amazing. I want to see the highlights.

Haase said: "It went up and down from both sides. We played good rallies, serves and returns. You can have a close match and feel better. Today, we didn't feel better for sure. Every point was great." Taking it from his partner, Matwe said: "We have decided to start as a full-time doubles pair as a Dutch team."

Haase, however, hoped that he made it to the Australian Open. "I hope I can make it to the Australian Open, I have some issues with my flight. If I do, we are going to play singles and doubles again."

Results

Singles: G Simon (FRA) bt K Anderson (RSA) 7-6, 6-2; Doubles: R Haase/M Middelkoop (NED) bt G Simon/PH Herbert (FRA) 7-6, 7-6.