Friday, October 15, 2021 - Aslan Karatsev and Andrey Rublev play against Tim Puetz and Michael Venus in a semifinal doubles match at Stadium 2 on day 12 of the 2021 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, CA. (Jared Wickerham/BNP Paribas Open)
For a guy who insists he never plays doubles, Andrey Rublev is having some year away from the singles court.
The Russian kicked off 2021 helping lead his countrymen to the ATP Cup title in Melbourne, teaming with Aslan Karatsev along the way. Rublev/Karatsev would once again pair up for the Doha title. The duo of Rublev/Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova struck mixed doubles gold at the Tokyo Olympics. And he was the no-doubt MVP of Team Europe’s dominant run at the Laver Cup, the tandems of Rublev/Alexander Zverev and Rublev/Stefanos Tsitsipas a perfect two-for-two in Boston.
Now Rublev and Karatsev find themselves in the men’s doubles final at the BNP Paribas Open, set to face No. 7 seeds John Peers of Australia and Filip Polasek of Slovakia. Peers is a veteran performer who has reached the men’s doubles final at three of the four Grand Slams, winning the Australian Open in 2017. Peers and partner Filip Polasek reached the US Open semifinals last month, and most recently the final in San Diego.
Saturday’s women’s doubles final features four talented women who have excelled in both singles and doubles throughout their careers, and is sure to be a brilliant finish to what has been a standout week for the doubles discipline.
What Veronika Kudermetova and Elena Rybakina lack in age and experience they make up for in sheer firepower. Both players have made a name for themselves as singles players, but have played doubles draws throughout the year with various partners, utilizing their baseline best to outmuscle teams that employ a more traditional touch and feel around the net.
The 24-year-old Russian, ranked No. 31 in singles and No. 21 in doubles, has compiled a particularly impressive doubles resume, reaching the Wimbledon final earlier this year with countrywoman Elena Vesnina where she lost to the very team that she and Rybakina are slated to play for the BNP Paribas Open trophy.
The team in question? Su-wei Hsieh and Elise Mertens, who have had impressive doubles careers already with different partners but whose partnership this year has yielded the prestigious Wimbledon title and a spot in the season-ending WTA Finals line-up featuring the eight best teams of the year.
The two have knocked out an impressive list of names this week in the Palm Desert, including their Roland Garros conquerors Iga Swiatek and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, as well as the teenage dream team of Leylah Fernandez and Coco Gauff.
Doubles always gets special attention at the BNP Paribas Open thanks in part to exciting pairings but also because the tennis fans of Indian Wells, California simply, well, love it – and there’s lots to love about the two teams competing for the top prize on Saturday.