Saturday, October 16, 2021 - John Peers and Filip Polasek celebrate after defeating Aslan Karatsev and Andrey Rublev in the men's doubles final match at Stadium 1 on day 13 of the 2021 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, CA. (Michael Cummo/BNP Paribas Open)
It was a battle between two full-time doubles players against a Russian duo, who are more known for their successes on the singles court – although Rublev did take home mixed doubles gold in Tokyo earlier this year with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
The gap in experience at the height of the doubles game was apparently early on though, as Peers & Polasek executed their formations with excellence and their tactics with precision. Exploiting the middle of the court with puncturing volleys off heavy serves, they were able to score a quick 6-3 first-set over Rublev & Karatsev.
In the third set, Rublev – the significantly more demonstrative of the two Russians – upped his intensity as his partner, typically more measured himself, upped the firepower off his groundstrokes. They played the No. 7 seeds tight, but were unsuccessful at making a breakthrough against their opponents’ serves.
All of Peers and Polasek’s hard work threatened to be undone un the third game, as Polasek suffered a tough ankle roll as he looked to change directions on a volley at the net. Needing a lengthy medical timeout (and lots of tape), the Slovakian returned to the court, gingerly protecting the right ankle but determined to close out the victory.
The remainder of the second set was a seesaw affair, with the seeded duo breaking and serving for the championship twice, but dropping serve against the world-class return abilities of Rublev and Karatsev.
In the tiebreak, the all-Russian team fired up their intensity once again as they took the first mini-break lead, but Peers and Polasek wouldn’t be denied. On their first match point, Karatsev moved to hit a forehand pass to cap off a tense baseline rally, but sent it shooting into the net.
After an hour and 29 minutes of tense doubles action, Peers and Polasek earned their BNP Paribas Open championship – their first of the season as a team and second with other partners.