Surprise doubles champs in Indian Wells

Roger Federer called it a “rough day at the office” after losing his singles semifinal against Novak Djokovic and losing the doubles final at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Federer and his partner Stanislas Wawrinka last teamed up to play doubles in the 2008 Olympics, where they took home the gold medal. This week’s doubles draw in Indian Wells was full of singles specialists who rarely if ever play doubles, including Rafael Nadal who happens to be the defending doubles champion with partner Marc Lopez. Roger and Stan dispatched the Spaniards in the semifinals on Friday.

Stan Wawrinka & Roger Federer

It wasn’t a surprise that ‘Fedwrinka,’ as fans have dubbed the Swiss duo, was successful in Indian Wells. They may not play doubles very often, but both Federer and Wawrinka can be excellent doubles players when they want to. It’s been a tough week on the team though. On Friday, Roger and Stan faced off for a spot in the singles semifinals and then had to be out on the doubles court just an hour or two later to compete against Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez. Wawrinka lost the singles encounter, but regrouped to play a pretty good match. In the final it was Roger who was fighting the losing blues. He lost only his third match of the year, all three of which have been against Novak Djokovic and had to be ready for doubles just two hours later.

This isn’t a story about the losers though. The real credit lies with the guys on the other side of the court. Federer and Wawrinka were taking on Xavier Malisse and Alexandr Dolgopolov, both reasonably accomplished singles players as well. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to see Dolgopolov and Malisse play together this week, but I did watch this match on TV and they were spectacular. Their win was even more surprising when the team explained how they came together. In the post match interview, Dolgopolov said, “We actually just we weren’t like talking all around. We just said hi before this tournament, and we weren’t like really close. But, yeah, he just ask me, Do you want to play like 15 minutes to the deadline of the doubles, because I wasn’t planning playing doubles here, and, yeah, here we are, winning the tournament. So it’s pretty amazing.” This was Alexandr Dolgopolov’s first ATP title in either singles or doubles and “Team Ponytail Express,” as Malisse and Dolgopolov are affectionately referred to, was all smiles throughout the entire match and especially after the win.

The newly crowned BNP Paribas Open doubles champions will continue to play doubles together through the European clay court season because of the success they’ve had in Indian Wells. This win actually catapults them from an unranked doubles team all the way to No. 5. Alexandr was supposed to play doubles with Florian Mayer for the rest of the spring and had to call him to see if he would allow Alexandr to play with Xavier instead. The prospects for Team Ponytail Express are great and I’m very excited to see how they’ll do in the clay season.