Due to all the Covid-19 regulations and local restrictions the male tennis ATP Tour set up some new tournaments in late 2020 – some of them in venues which are typically not hosting ATP events. The Cologne LANXESSarena hosted two tournaments in a row, the bett1HULKS Indoors (12th to 18th October 2020) and the bett1HULKS CHampionships (19th to 25th October 2020). Right when the infection numbers raised in a way that the tournament had to void the tickets sold, the first (and only) Indian player stepped on court: Divij Sharan, partnered by Jackson Withrow (USA) were facing the French top team, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut. I was gifted to represent the Indian Tennis Community at this match.
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Sharan / Withrow vs. Herbert / Mahut – The Match
Jackson Withrow was the first to serve in the match. He had to go over 40-40, but then made it. Already from the very beginning, the French favorites just played more solid, had the harder and flatter shots. The return was the key shot – what Divij Sharan had to explore at his first service game, when a couple of tough return shots lead to the first break of the game. Pierre-Hugues Herbert faced a 0:40 at own serve, 4-2 in the lead, but only at 30:40, when Sharan managed to give a solid return, there was a slight chance for the Indian-US combo to come back to the set. Sharan had minor struggle to win his serve thereafter, but overall Mahut had a too easy one to serve the 5-3. Finally, Withrow got broken for a 6-3 first set by the French.
Herbert had likely most trouble overall in the first game of the second set, but the French were just too routined to fail in the pressure. The second set felt much more leveled than the first one, the following games were all comparably straight. Again, Herbert struggled slightly with a 0:30 at own service in the fifth game, but it felt finally too easy to win that one for the second-seeded. In the eighth game, Sharan faced triple break point (or even quadruple, if you include the no-ad rule) and the French made it in the second attack. 6-3 6-3 finally, a well deserved victory for Herbert/Mahut, who feel to be in a very strong form in Cologne.
Sharan / Withrow vs. Herbert / Mahut – My View
No need to discuss, this was a rather straight one. Especially the first set did not really feel like a 3-6 score. The French were just more precise, more powerful, simply merciless. Great to see DIvij again, even though the in-the-bubble players of course to limit their outside-the-bubble people massively and I thus could not chat to our Indian guy.
Sharan / Withrow vs. Herbert / Mahut – Gallery
Here is the match gallery with 235 major pictures in the sports gallery section:
See the bett1HULK Tournaments 2020 Gallery group for more pictures.
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