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Teams Built for Success…or Not

January 25, 2015


Second-week play at the 2015 Australian Open is well under way, and something stands out to me looking at the men’s doubles draw:

None of the four biggest new teams will be taking part in the proceedings.

The four of which I speak are Eric Butorac/Sam Groth, Leander Paes/Raven Klaasen, Daniel Nestor/Rohan Bopanna and Nenad Zimonjic/Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi.

Now, Paes and Klaasen started off the year as well as a team can, with a final and win in their first two appearances. And Bopanna and Nestor did win in Sydney. The other two haven’t been as fortunate. And if the whole point in sport is to challenge for the game’s biggest prizes, they’ve really gotten off to a poor start.

Of course, it’s early and once they all get into a rhythm, things should be decent. However, I do wonder about these particular combos:

• I think Groth’s late-blooming singles career is going to push doubles to the wayside, leaving Butorac, aka “the Prez” (he’s the ATP President, maybe that nickname will stick?) out in the cold. Plus, these two are big hitters: where’s the craftiness going to come from?

• Paes and Klaasen might have the opposite problem. Until he decides to stop playing, Paes is going to be among the top 5 when it comes to having the best hands. But who’s going to come up with the firepower when it’s needed?

• I think the Zimonjic/Qureshi and Nestor/Bopanna teams have an interesting set of problems. While it’s essentially a partner swap between the two, it’s hard to tap what the benefits will be. Zimonjic and Nestor picked up younger guys—but not really that younger where it’ll make a difference with fresh legs and enthusiasm.

All that being said, titles are sure to be won: these guys are too good for that not to happen. But will they be big ones? The fate of these pairings will be determined by that.

(Photo: Getty Images)

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