Joachim Gerard and Stefan Olsson ensured it would be their names that were once again on the men’s doubles trophy at the final ITF1 event of the year.
We are a strong team and can be the best in the world so we just have to show it. Joachim Gerard
The pair began the week aiming to replicate what they had done 12 months ago and successfully defend the title they had earned in Bath in 2016.
And they might not have made it easy for us to watch at points but this they did claiming victory over Evans Maripa and Takashi Sanada in straight sets 7-6(2) 6-2.
Gerard said: “It’s great and it’s always a pleasure to win here with Stefan. Even though our game was not quite as good in the first set we made it through and got the win. I hope we can do that next week in the doubles Masters.”
Olson added laughing: “Yeh we were slow starters today a little bit.”
The win means that like Lucy Shuker and Diede De Groot in the women’s doubles draw, Gerard and Olsson remain the pair to beat in Bath having never lost a doubles match together in the two years the event has been running.
From playing catch-up to claiming victory
The first set was a really competitive affair which saw Maripa and Sanada in front and the defending champions playing catch-up right up until the end.
With their opponents serving consistently and fighting for every point, the pressure was always on Gerard and Olsson from the start.
Maripa and Sanada hit some good winners and hustled well causing the number two seeds to hit some uncharacteristic unforced errors.
Gerard, who has played some amazing tennis this week, indicating that he is returning to full force just in time for the two big year-end tournaments after spending some time away from the game earlier in the year due a shoulder injury, was also struggling with his serve.
He said: “The same thing happened in some of the singles matches here. My shoulder is not quite 100% – the motion is there but the muscles are not ready.
“It’s not painful, it’s just tired as it’s had a lot of matchplay this week and it’s not easy to play with that.”
Stefan has his own theory as to why Jo’s serve wasn’t working though.
He joked: “And he’s nearly 30 so that’s why.”
But as the saying goes it’s not how you start it’s how you finish (no matter how old you are Stefan).
And as the first set progressed the defending champions did what they do best – upping their game and playing the style of high quality tennis that has seen them both earn their place among the top ten players in the world – and came from 5-4 and 6-5 down to force a first set tie-break, which they got through comfortably.
Olsson said: “We pulled ourselves together in the tie-break and did some good stuff there and from then on it just felt good.
“They were 2-0 up in the second set at one point too but we just kept digging deep and got into the match and won.”
Hungry for more success
Gerard and Olsson will now go on to compete together in Holland when the doubles Masters gets underway later this week.
The tournament sees the top eight doubles pairs in the men’s division, the top six in the women’s and the top four in the quads go head-to-head to find a year-end champion in each division.
With the two pairs who appear to be dominating doubles competition in the men’s division at the minute – France’s Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer and Britain’s Gordon Reid and Alfie Hewett – among those competing, it will be a tough tournament for the pair who are seeded fourth.
But they are determined to get their name on that trophy in 2017.
Olsson said: “We just have to believe and play like I know we can play and like we played here in the second half of the second set today and anything can happen.
“We’re definitely going to give it a shot.”
Gerard added: “We’ve already gone three sets against the top two pairs before so we know we can be one of the best alongside them.
“We are a strong team and can be the best in the world so we just have to show it – we will do it!”