Frenchmen Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin lost a heartbreaking five-setter in the Wimbledon final, and then they fell in a Match Tie-Break in the Metz championship match two weeks ago. But the second seeds refused to be denied in Tokyo.
Mahut and Roger-Vasselin defeated reigning Monte-Carlo champions Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor 7-6(7), 6-4 after one hour and 42 minutes to clinch the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships title, their seventh tour-level trophy as a pair and their first together since Antwerp last year.
“Amazing to have the trophy, an amazing week. From the first day we arrived we played really, really well,” Roger-Vasselin said. “[It was] tough with the jet lag, of course, but on court, off court, we really had a nice, nice week. And of course to have the trophy, you cannot finish better than that.”
Mahut and Roger-Vasselin first competed together in a Futures event held in Bagneres de Bigorre, France more than 17 years ago. This is their first ATP 500 triumph as a team.
“We are coming from the same area in France, so we grew up [together], we’re almost the same age, so we know each other of course from a long time,” Roger-Vasselin said. “It’s definitely better to win with a friend and of course it helps on court to know each other from a long time.”
Mahut owns 26 tour-level doubles titles, while Roger-Vasselin has 19. But lifting trophies together, as friends, makes it even more special.
“We enjoy playing together so much,” Mahut said. “Seventeen years later, we’re still here having a bigger trophy of course in hand. I hope we have many more to come.”
Mektic and Skugor served for the first set, but they were unable to convert. And after the Frenchmen seized their sixth set point of the opener, they never looked back.
“It’s unbelievable,” Mahut said. “It was a fantastic week, maybe the best week to play, especially for doubles. The people, they love doubles, they love tennis and it was just fantastic… of course for us it’s even better with the trophy, but it was absolutely fantastic.”
Mahut and Roger-Vasselin, who earn 500 ATP Doubles Ranking points and a share of $123,000, will have little time to celebrate, though. The Frenchmen plan to depart Tokyo Sunday evening for Shanghai, where they will be the sixth seeds at the Rolex Shanghai Masters.
“We’re going to try to fly tonight because the tournament’s starting tomorrow,” Mahut said. “I wish we could have stayed longer and have a great night here because we went to the fantastic restaurants and there are so many places to see here. The week was too short, we definitely have to come back.”
Mektic and Skugor fell short of their second ATP Tour title as a team. They add 300 points to their tallies and will share $60,200.
Did You Know?
Roger-Vasselin is now a two-time Tokyo titlist. The Frenchman was victorious here in 2013 alongside Rohan Bopanna.
Photo Credit: Andrew Eichenholz/ATP Tour