Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor claimed their second Barcelona title in three years and their 35th as a duo, outlasting the Polish team of Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski in the Match Tie-break of Sunday’s Open SEAT 2006 final.
A double fault by Matkowski gave the Bahamian-Canadian duo the early lead in the title match. He redeemed the error by firing an ace on Knowles and Nestor’s next break chance – at set point – but saw the first set go to the top seeds when he returned the ball into the net on the no-ad point.
Fyrstenberg and Matkowski secured double break point to begin the second set, but had to wait until the ninth game to take their first and only break of the match. They only needed to hold serve to send the final to a decisive Match Tie-break, but Knowles and Nestor staved off a set point in the next game and returned the contest on serve.
The duos traded points in the first ten games of the second set tie-break before the eighth seeds pulled away to keep their title hopes intact.
The finalists found themselves in familiar territory after splitting the first two sets; both had prevailed in the Match Tie-breaks in Saturday’s semifinals to advance to the final, and their last encounter had been decided in the same fashion – a 13-11 win by Knowles and Nestor in Sydney.
Once again, the top seeds proved themselves superior. They jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the Match Tie-break and sealed the Championship by reeling off the final three points.
Knowles and Nestor, who were playing in their fifth final of 2006, added the Barcelona crown to the Delray Beach and Pacific Life Open titles won earlier this year. They also joined Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi as the only three-time doubles titlists thus far in 2006.
The duo had been mired in a mini slump coming into Barcelona – exiting in the openers of their last three events – but will move up to No. 4 in the Stanford ATP Doubles Race with their performance this week. [Source: ATP]