American Taylor Fritz teams plays better singles than doubles. (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)
American Taylor Fritz teams plays better singles than doubles. (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)|Associated Press

ATP Acapulco Doubles: Abrams makes his Mexico Open picks, explains why two good singles players don't always make a strong doubles team

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

Everybody knows that doubles is a totally different game than singles on the tennis court. And since it’s a different game, it has different stars. In addition, two excellent singles players don’t necessarily make a great doubles team. Good singles players can hit all the shots, but the nuances in strategy and movement don’t come as second nature to singles players on the doubles court simply because they don’t play doubles that often.

In Acapulco there are some really good doubles teams, there are some really good doubles players, and then there are some players who primarily play singles, who have decided to team up with another player, and have entered the doubles draw. The two best teams entered in the Mexico tournament are Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah and Lukasz Kubot/Marcelo Melo. Cabal/Farah, who both live in Panama City, are the defending Wimbledon Champions, while Lukasz Kubot is a 27-year-old Pole and Marcelo Melo hails from Brazil. These guys won Wimbledon in 2017, when they were named the ATP doubles team of the year.

Kubot/Melo beat the really talented Spanish team of Marc Lopez/Feliciano Lopez (no relation) in straight sets in the first round here. They now take on the exciting team of Grigor Dimitrov/Taylor Fritz, both of whom are far better singles players than they are as a doubles team. If you’re in Acapulco watching the Tour, Dimitrov and Fritz will give you thrills and chills with their individual skills, but Kubot/Melo will win. It’s doubles, so the score will appear close, but the guys who slide by under the radar will win the match.

Although Cabal/Farah are the top seeds and at this point should be expected to win, they had a really good victory in the first round as they absolutely mopped up the floor with the very good team of Luke Bambridge/Ben McLachan 6-0, 7-5. They now get to play the all Belgian team of Sander Gille/Joran Vliegen. The Belgians took out a lucky loser team in the first round, but don’t have the firepower, experience or expertise to hang with the best team in the world. I’d expect Cabal/Farah to roll easily into the semis.

The Zverev Brothers, Alexander and Mischa, won this title last year and know each other about as well as two players possibly could. They eased out of the first round with a very good win over Americans Nicholas Monroe/Jackson Withrow in straight sets, so they’re firing on all cylinders. Next up for the Zverev boys is the tantalizing team of Frenchmen Adrian Mannarino/Fabrice Martin. In what could be considered a bit of an upset, I’d take the Frenchmen. Fabrice Martin is a really terrific doubles player, and is 6’6” to boot, which always helps on the doubles court. Mannarino, on the other hand, is coming off of two very close losses in singles (Cam Norrie 6-3 in the third here, and Soonwoo Kwon 7-6 in the third last week in Delray Beach) and would seem to have an awful lot of incentive and desire to win here. I think he gets it.

The last doubles quarterfinal is between Nikola Cacic/Dusan Lajovic versus Santiago Gonzalez/Ken Skupski. Interestingly, each team has one good predominantly doubles player: Cacic and Skupski. But Skupski usually plays with his brother, and I doubt he finds playing with Gonzalez as comfortable and as rewarding as the way he blends with his bro. Besides, Gonzalez is a 36-year-old homeboy here, and a few years removed from his best tennis. Cacic, a 29-year-old Serbian, on the other hand, does everything well on the doubles court, and should be able to mesh well with Lajovic. Cacic, a better doubles player than his #62 ranking indicates, serves well and is well aware of getting his first serve in, volleys well, possesses a good return-of-serve, and moves well. My money is on the two Serbians, Cacic and Lajovic.

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