Champions Again: Rojer/Tecau Retain Dubai Title
Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau lifted their 17th tour-level doubles title as a team on Saturday, beating wild cards Jamie Cerretani and Leander Paes 6-2, 7-6(2) to retain their Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships trophy.
"With each match we got better," reflected Tecau. "We had tough quarter-finals and semi-finals matches. We are happy to get the win today because it was a tricky match."
The defending champions backed up their 2017 title run (d. Bopanna/Matkowski) by breaking their opponents on three occasions and winning 75 per cent of their service points in the 87-minute clash. The Dutch-Romanian team ended Cerretani and Paes’ seven-match unbeaten streak as a pair at all levels. The title marks Rojer’s 26th tour-level doubles title, while Tecau has now won 34 trophies. The 2015 Nitto ATP Finals champions denied Leander Paes his 750th tour-level doubles victory — the Indian remains at 749.
"It means a lot because this tournament always has a strong doubles field," Tecau said. "Winning here two years in a row, it's a great accomplishment for us. Always have to beat some big servers on these fast conditions. That's very good for confidence to win here twice."
Paes and Cerretani were bidding for a second title in two events as a team, after triumphing in their only previous outing as a duo at an ATP Challenger Tour event in Newport Beach, California, last month (d. Huey/Kudla). Paes was playing for for a third Dubai title — in his fifth final — and a 55th tour-level trophy, which would have given him his first triumph since 2015 Auckland. Cerretani was seeking a fifth title on the ATP World Tour with a fifth partner.
"Sometimes you've just got to tip your hat to your opponents and say, too good, well done," admitted Paes. "It goes to show what a great team they are. They played really well today."
Interestingly, Cerretani was not supposed to play in Dubai. Paes called the American at the last minute, and the 36-year-old flew from from Los Angeles — after just arriving home from Marseille — to play alongside 44-year-old.
"To play with a guy like, excuse me, a legend like Leander, is just a great opportunity," explained Cerretani.
The second seeds started quickly, dropping just three points in the first three games for a 3-0 lead. Cerretani and Paes got themselves onto the scoreboard from there, but the double-break soon came for Rojer and Tecau, with an angled return winner from Tecau, to clinch the first set.
The defending champions raced out to a 2-0 lead in the second set, increasing their grip on the match, but Cerretani and Paes replied immediately to level proceedings at 2-2 with improved play. Further break points came and passed for both teams before a second-set tie-break, and it was there that Rojer and Tecau excelled. Tecau hit a strong serve on the pair’s first championship point, and Rojer clinched the title with an overhead.
Rojer and Tecau will receive 500 ATP Doubles Ranking points and split the $170,270 champions' prize money. Cerretani and Paes collect 300 points and will share $83,360.
Did You Know?
While individuals have successfully returned with a new partner and won back-to-back doubles titles, Rojer and Tecau’s triumph marks the first time in the 26-year history of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships that a team has successfully retained its crown.