STO Dbls Top seeds Gillé & Vliegen deliver sterling performance to reach QF!
by Circle News, on Feb 23, 2021 7:47:04 PM
(Sander Gillé & Joran Vliegen)
(By Lynelle Lim)
The American pair of Evan King (ranked #134 in doubles) and his partner Hunter Reese (ranked #129), looked to cause a major upset against the top seeds of the tournament this afternoon at the OCBC Arena. Coming in as the favourites for the doubles title at the Singapore Tennis Open, the Belgian pair of Sander Gillé, (ranked #41 in doubles) and his partner Joran Vliegen, (ranked #37) looked to take home the trophy.
King and Reese served the opening game in the 1st set, but quickly got broken by the top seeds. Not taking advantage of their lead at 2-1 though, the Belgians failed to hold serve and got broken by their opponents instead. Both pairs showed strong presence at the net and used the eye formation tactic to hold their respective serves comfortably. At 4-4, Reese hit 2 aces and held a love game.
Trailing 4-5 down on serve, Vliegen used his lefty advantage and hit heavy serves to win a close and crucial game to level the match at 5-5. King then hit a brilliant serve at 5-5 (30-30) to set his partner up with a put away smash, before holding serve to go up 6-5. With no ad scoring/sudden death in the doubles format, Gillé found himself serving to stay alive in the first set at 5-6 (40-40), as the Americans had a set point.
King chose to receive Gillé’s serve on the deciding point, but hit a weak return. And that allowed Vliegen to hit a volley winner and took the match into a tiebreak. At 3-2 in the tiebreak, Gillé pulled a gutsy move as he served and volley behind his second serve which won the Belgians duo the point and gave them extra confidence. The top seeds found themselves with 3 set points after a few wicked winners from both Gillé and Vliegen and quickly closed out the set 7-6 (3) with a huge serve from the Belgian lefty.
(Evan King & Hunter Reese)
In the first game of the 2nd set, Gillé hit 1 ace and 3 good body serves to set his partner up with put away volleys and a smash. However, the American duo showed no signs of backing down as they evened out the match at 1-1 after Reese’s service game. With great anticipation, the top seeds looked to be calm and composed as they steadily saved a break point and went up 2-1 after a service hold from Vliegen.
The American duo looked to be feeling the pressure as King and Reese hit a couple of loose errors and gave the top seeds their first break point in the second set. The Belgians then broke serve with Gillé sneaking in midway through the rally between King and Vliegen to hit a spectacular inside out forehand volley from the doubles alley, which was a huge point that allowed them to be a step closer to the finish line. With a couple of straightforward holds from the Belgian duo, they found themselves leading 5-2 in the set. And to stay alive in the match, King served well to hold serve at 3-5, with some assistance from Reese at the net. The Belgian duo converted their first match point and wrapped up the match in 73 minutes, after Gillé hit a 199km/h first serve and got a slow return from Reese to set Vliegen up to hit a forehand volley winner. Final score was 7-6, 6-3.
Although the underdogs made the first set complicated for the top seeds, Gillé and Vliegen looked to have better communication as they progressed through the match. In the opening set, the American duo’s tactics were to hit in between the top seeds and move them out of the court which worked well, until the Belgian pair realized what King and Reese were trying to do and adapted to their opponents’ strategy. Gillé and Vliegen upped their intensity in the 2nd set as they rushed their opponents by hitting more penetrating shots and approaching the net to finish the point with sharp volleys and untouchable overhead smashes.
The top seeds now await either the Indian pair of Purav Raja and Ramkumar Ramanathan or the Korean-Jap duo of Soonwoo Kwon and Yasutaka Uchiyama, in the last 8.
(Edited by Raj Kumar)
Lynelle Lim is a full-time tennis player and part of the national Team Singapore setup. She’s represented the Republic in various prestigious and renowned events such as the Federation Cup, WTA Future Stars, as well as the 2019 SEA Games. At the age of 13, she made the decision to take a route less familiar because she had an extremely strong desire to become a competitive tennis player. And today, Lynelle feels proud and fortunate to say that tennis has given her a great deal, and it’s taught her so much more than she could ever imagine. Aged 20 and watching the game from a different perspective, she’s looking forward to writing about the Singapore Tennis Open, featuring world class players from the Men’s ATP Tour!
**In case you missed this exciting match, we've got you covered! Just click HERE to watch the full match (Evan King & Hunter Reese vs Sander Gillé and Joran Vliegen)
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