By Philip James
Colin Fleming/Jonathan Marray def (4) Jean-Julien Rojer /Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi 6-4 3-6 10-6
The Brits progress to round two of the ATP500 Open Banc Sabadell clay court tournament and in the process, avenge the defeat they suffered at the hands of the same opponents at the Monte Carlo Masters last week.
Rojer and Quereshi, ranked 7th and 8th in doubles respectively, have played together regularly since the start of the 2012 season, reaching 5 finals together and winning three of them, including the Miami Masters in March.
But Marray and Fleming, ranked 17th and 29th respectively themselves, have formed a promising partnership of their own this year and this win is a big step on their way to becoming a top team.
The beginning of the match was a serve dominated affair, as each player held twice to make it 4-4, each team winning just three return points.
But on Rojer’s third service game ‘Flemarray’ finally made inroads, forcing 15-40 and with it three break points.
An ace from the Dutchman saved the first but he could not save the second and Liverpool-born Marray served out to take the first set 6-4.
However, Rojer and Pakistani Qureshi are third in the doubles team rankings and not without good reason, and they showed their class in the second set.
After Qureshi held to open the set, they piled the pressure onto Fleming’s serve reaching deuce and winning their first break point of the match on a double fault.
Holds all round, including Qureshi saving two break points, made it 4-2 when Marray was also broken before Qureshi served out to force the deciding third set tie-break.
At first it looked like the fourth seed’s momentum would carry them to victory, taking the first two points of the breaker, but the Brits fought back, taking seven of the next eight points.
Leading 7-3, the Brits briefly stalled as their opponents reduced the deficit to one.
But two points on serve brought up three match points for ‘Flemarray’ and they took the first to win 6-4 3-6 10-6 in an hour and eight minutes.
Fleming will know Soares well, having partnered him to win the Heineken Open in Auckland in January, but also having lost to him in the doubles quarter-finals of Indian Wells in March.