Rojer/Tecau Capture Second Major Title In New York
Perseverance pays off. Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau haven’t had the easiest of times in the past 18 months, but the pair have come good over the past three weeks and their red-hot form has carried them to their second Grand Slam championship crown at the US Open.
Rojer and Tecau defeated Spaniards Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez 6-4, 6-3 in the final at Flushing Meadows on Friday. It is the climax of a 10-match winning run for the duo, who came into the US Open on the back of their 15th tour-level team crown at the Winston-Salem Open. They have only dropped two sets during that period.
“The key to the whole thing is you need to communicate and be out there and fight together,” said Rojer in the on-court ceremony. “These are pressure-packed situations. That’s a strength of ours. We’ve had a great two weeks. We played well in all the matches and we did so again today.
“Congratulations to Marc and Feliciano; they are very good friends of ours. They had a great week and they were very deserving. It came down to a few points and it was a very close match,” added the Dutchman, who also took the opportunity to send a message to his family on the Caribbean island of Curacao, who had been unable to travel to New York to watch the final due to Hurricane Irma.
"It feels amazing right now. We love coming here. We love playing in New York. I never got to be on Ashe Stadium before," said Tecau. "So it was just overwhelming to play a final. My best result here was quarter-final. Really happy to peak in these two weeks and get together a few tough wins.
"Looking back in the past few weeks, we have been working hard to get to this level. The confidence that we got from winning the week before and from beating some top teams on the way to the final counted a lot today.
"It felt great in London when we got our first Grand Slam, and we wanted to get that feeling again. We were trying ever since, every Slam that we are playing and every Slam is special. Today was amazing to be on Ashe. Huge stadium. Good support. Very happy to win today."
"I have a great appreciation for this one," added Rojer. "I don't want to say maybe more than Wimbledon and the fact that I know how difficult it is to win a Grand Slam, this is only my second one, but these things are tough, man. They're not so easy. I think both of us, we have a great appreciation for the title."
Rojer and Tecau won their first major trophy together at Wimbledon two years ago, and would finish that season as the No. 1 duo in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings, closing the year as the champions at the Nitto ATP Finals in London.
But the duo struggled to replicate that success the following year, winning just one title, at the Mutua Madrid Open, and failing to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, with injuries hampering their combined campaign.
After a tough start to the 2017 season, Rojer and Tecau hit the mark with victory in Dubai, and followed up with titles in Geneva and Winston-Salem. The victory in New York now puts them in a strong position to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 12-19 November. They are set to move up to third in the Emirates ATP Doubles Race To London.
"There's rough moments there," said Rojer. "Horia is a competitor. He wants to win. He tries his best. I do the same. If the results are not coming, it's frustrating. You end up having a lot of frustrating conversations. You want to be winning matches. You want to be out there playing and finding a good rhythm, and it took us a while there to find some good rhythm. I think what happened a lot was the decision to play Winston-Salem before this week, and that got us some match rhythm coming into this week."
The final against Lopez and Lopez was closer than the score line suggested. Tecau was broken in the seventh game of the first set, but the Spaniards couldn’t maintain their advantage as Rojer and Tecau hit back to win three successive games and close out the opener.
A break of the Marc Lopez serve in the fourth game gave Rojer and Tecau a 3-1 lead in the second set. Tecau then held from 15/40 to extend that advantage to 4-1, and it was the Romanian who served out the match, with the duo converting their third championship point as Rojer punched away a forehand volley.
“It’s been a tough set to hold serve for me,” said Tecau. “I was grinding to hold serve [in the second set]. They had a lot of chances and I was fighting hard to hold. We were just focussing on trying to get one more point, don’t focus on the title and see what happens.”
Lopez and Lopez were also bidding to win their second Grand Slam crown, having lifted the trophy at Roland Garros last year. The Spaniards’ run has moved them up to 10th in the year-to-date standings, giving them to the chance to qualify for London with a strong finish to the season.