“I wasn’t planning playing doubles here, and here we are, winning the tournament. So it’s pretty amazing.”

The first-time pairing of Alexandr Dolgopolov and Xavier Malisse completed their giant-killing run at the BNP Paribas Open, defeating Olympic gold medalists Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4, 6-7(5) 10-7 in the doubles final at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament. Dolgopolov said about their unlikely road to the title, “We just said hi before this tournament, and we weren’t like really close. He just asked me, ‘Do you want to play?’ like 15 minutes to the deadline of the doubles because I wasn’t planning playing doubles here and here we are, winning the tournament. So it’s pretty amazing.”

Over the tournament fortnight, the Ukrainian-Belgian pairing ousted top seeds Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, US Open doubles finalists Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, and three Top 10 singles players in Federer, Andy Murray (w/J. Murray) and Tomas Berdych (w/Tipsarevic). Their five wins all came in a Match Tie-break. “For sure we were doing that the whole tournament, so I wasn’t really nervous in the final,” Dolgopolov said of playing the Match Tie-break. “We had a lot of luck throughout the tournament. You don’t want to lose it because you’re nervous or something. You get lucky, you win; if not, you lose. We just went for it and got a bit of luck as well in the final.”

It was the first title for the 22-year-old Dolgopolov and the fifth doubles title for the 30-year-old Malisse, whose biggest win came seven years ago at Roland Garros with Olivier Rochus. “I think we just go out there and have fun,” said Malisse of their success. “That’s the main reason. That’s what we said in the beginning. And we return really well, so we make the other guys play all the time. At the net we can manage, and I think we serve well. Those are the things that you need in doubles, I guess. Especially the return, which is every time second serve we make them play and it makes a big difference.”



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