Two-time French Open doubles champions Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies agree that it would be a dream come true to lace up their tennis sneakers for Tokyo 2020 next July.
While tennis’ reach is global, that often means players from separate countries pair up for doubles play. But at the Olympics, teams must be made up of two players from the same nation, giving Krawietz and Mies a chance to not only make their Olympic debut, but have a shot at the medal podium, too.
“(Qualifying) is a big goal for us (because) we have never been a part of the Olympics before,” Mies told Olympic Channel this week. “The Olympics are one of the biggest events we have in sports. I’ve been watching them since I’m a little child. It would be a big privilege (to play).”
Tokyo: Doubles field has many possibilities
The No.1-ranked doubles team in the world is Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah of Colombia, but the duo didn’t qualify for the ATP Finals this year as rankings – due to COVID-19 – can include events from 2019 in addition to 2020.
Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut are one of the top doubles teams in the world, as well, the French pair winning 17 titles together, including four majors. They played only six events together this year.
In 2016, singles superstar and Beijing 2008 gold medallist Rafael Nadal teamed up with Spanish countryman Marc Lopez to win doubles in Rio. Four years earlier it had been the American duo, Bob and Mike Bryan, winning gold at London 2012. The twin brothers retired earlier this year.
Krawietz and Mies, who are looking to qualify for the semi-finals in London this weekend, say they will continue to play together in 2021, starting at the Australian Open in January. While the season has plenty of unknowns, they believe their strength is their familiarity with one another and consistency on the court, as many top doubles players will change partners once a year, if not more.
Singles stars make cross-over move
“It’s nice for us to play with a partner from the same country,” Krawietz said. “It feels very cool if it’s comfortable off of the court, too, to have a good connection.”
The team broke through at the French Open in 2019, when as an unseeded duo playing in just their ninth event together they became the first all-German team to win a doubles major in the Open era. They repeated that win in 2020, albeit under strict COVID-19 protocols in Paris.
Top singles stars, like Nadal, will often double-up at the Olympics for more chances to win hardware: Singles medallists Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin Del Potro and Andy Murray all played doubles in 2016.
Many top doubles players are from the same country, but don’t play together regularly (at least in recent times), including Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares of Brazil; Croatia’s Mate Pavic, Nikola Mektic and Ivan Dodig; and the top American Rajeev Ram with the likes of Steve Johnson and Jack Sock, a duo that won bronze in 2016.
Women's podium wide open, too
It’s similar in women’s tennis: Eight of the top 10 doubles players on the WTA are from different countries. Czech Republic’s Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova won two majors in 2018, while another Czech player, Barbora Strycova is one of the best doubles players in the world, as well.
Strycova won bronze in Rio with a now-retired Lucie Safarova, while Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, the gold medallists in 2016, have both stepped away from the game, too.
Tennis insiders will watch out for must-see mixed doubles pairings, as well, the discipline having been added to the Games in 2012. Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Sock, the Americans, won in Rio, beating Venus and her partner, the aforementioned Ram.
Krawietz and Mies chase childhood dream
For Krawietz and Mies, they say they grew up watching the Olympics as kids in Germany.
“The Olympic Games means everything for me, because I was (watching) as a young kid always,” said Krawietz. “Yeah, every sport I was looking at the TV and seeing the competitions. (It didn’t) matter which sport it was.”
He continued: “So I think it's, yeah, that's the biggest dream for me to compete in the Olympic Games. Yeah, hopefully we have the chance next year.”
Mies went on to tell German reporters this week that if he had his choice, he would try to play football at the Games, though, he laughed, that “tennis is my thing.”
“I don’t know how to do anything else but tennis,” he said, smiling.
The deadline for rankings and subsequent entry set by the International Tennis Federation for the Tokyo Games is 7 June 2021.