In terms of on-court demeanor, you would be hard-pressed to find two more different players on the ATP Tour than Rafael Nadal and Bernard Tomic. But that has not stopped them from pairing up for doubles together at next month’s BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. A Nadal-Tomic partnership was the talk of the initial doubles list for the first Masters 1000 event of 2017 when it was revealed earlier this week.
Nadal and Tomic were the ninth duo accepted based on their combined singles ranking and the first outside of the traditional doubles teams, with Americans John Isner and Jack Sock right behind.
Only time will tell if teaming up with one of the most well-respected competitors in the game will inspire Tomic to greater heights in his singles career. That was not the case, to be sure, in the Aussie’s first outing since the Nadal-Tomic tandem was announced. In his first-round match at the Delray Beach Open on Tuesday, Tomic clearly tanked several points on the way to a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 setback against Steve Darcis.
— Nick Leone (@TheTennisLion) February 21, 2017
Nadal did have some good things to say about Tomic this past offseason.
“He played a great year (in 2016); especially the first four or five months he played so good,” the 14-time Grand Slam champion noted. “For sure, he has a chance to be in the top 10. He’s a big talent and he (has) improved a lot in terms of mentality. He has won important matches and is improving. He’s a charismatic player for the tour. He’s a great guy. There can only be 10 players in the top 10–it’s always difficult, but he has a great amount of talent.’’
More expected singles-to-doubles pairings are Isner and Sock, Alexander Zverev and Mischa Zverev, Dominic Thiem and Philipp Kohlschreiber, and Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau. Accomplished doubles players Vasek Pospisil and Steve Johnson are also forming a first-time North American partnership.
Among the entry list’s staple doubles teams are 2016 champions Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, Henri Kontinen and John Peers, Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram, Max Mirnyi and Treat Huey, and Ivan Dodig and Marcel Granollers.
Last year’s pairings featured Nadal and Fernando Verdasco, Thiem and Kohlschreiber, Isner and Milos Raonic, Gasquet and Benoit Paire, and fellow Argentines Juan Martin Del Potro and Leonardo Mayer. Past doubles winners include Nadal and Marc Lopez (2012), Alexandr Dolgopolov and Xavier Malisse (2011), and Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish (2009).