Summary of 2015: july till november

Logically, on the first half of 2015 follows the second half, from july till november. And again a part of the season to look back to filled with pride.

July brought Nico back to Queens for the second time of the year, to play for the french Davis cup team in their quarterfinals meeting against Great-Britain. Nico played the doublesmatch with Jo-Wilfriend Tsonga against the Murray brothers, a match they unfortunately lost.

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August wasn’t that special, but Nico played qualifications in both Montreal and Cincinnati. In both events he won two matches to make it to the maindraw, but lost eventually in the first round. Same with doubles, there was nothing special happening. After Cincinnati, Nico focussed on playing singles, by going to Winston-Salem.

The last Grand Slam of the year turned out to be a great event, Nico and Pierre-Hugues won their first doubles grand slam title. Only in the second round they faced matchpoints and were close to a defeat, all the other matches were done in straight sets. What a great way to end the US Open!

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September brought the brand new Grand Slam champions back to France, to play the tournament of Metz. Nico lost to Tsonga in the quarterfinals, but not without snatching the first set. Of course there were doubles too, Pierre-Hugues and Nico made it all the way to the final, where they ended up as runner-ups against Kubot/Roger-Vasselin after losing in the matchtiebreak; 6-2 3-6 7-10.

Because the duo works for their ranking, eyes on world Tour Finals and on the Olympics in Rio in 2016, was Asia the destination in oktober. First the tournament of Tokyo, followed by the Master event of Shanghai. In Tokyo they reached till the quarterfinals, and in Shanghai they gave a walkover for the quarterfinals, because Pierre-Hugues was injured.

All the hard work this year wasn’t for nothing, the two french guys qualified for the big event in the O2, The world Tour Finals. Together with the masters event in Paris, were that the last two events for Nico in november. The masters in Paris weren’t too succesfull unfortunately,  (with a first round loss in both singles and doubles.

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The first ever performance in London was overshadowed by the attacks in Paris, on the friday before the event. Nico and Pierre-Hugues played their first match on monday, which gave them a little bit more time to get back to the tennis. With a beautiful gesture of Pray for Paris on their shirts, they paid an hommage to the victims. The first match against Dodig and Melo ended in a loss, but they didn’t play bad.

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Two days later they got the win against Zimonjic/Matkovski, and this gave them chances to qualify for the semifinals on saturday. Unfortunately they needed a win, and weren’t able to get that, but all the time they kept fighting, which was great to see.

The World Tour Finals was the last event for Nico for this year, even though he played a bit for his Tennisclub de Paris and some padel event in Rennes. It’s the holidays season now, before it all starts over again in Brisbane next year.

Summary of 2015: january till june

Now that the season of 2015 has ended, it’s time to look back on an amazing year. Nicolas has achieved some things in 2015 that he hasn’t made before, and only that makes it worth looking back to this year.

Remember january? Nico lost in qualification singles during the Australian Open, but he made up for that by reaching the final in doubles with Pierre-Hugues herbert. Herbert, who never won a match in a Grand Slam before, suddenly found himself in the final of a Grand Slam. They were defeated by the italian duo of Fognini/Bolelli, but the good vibes were there already.

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Australian Open finalists

Nico had to qualify for some events in february, he won 3 rounds in Rotterdam, before losing to topseed Andy Murray in the first round. The week after, he qualified in Marseille, but lost to Struff in the first round. Nico played with Pierre-Hugues doubles in Marseille too, but PH got injured and they gave a walkover for the second round. This injury took some months, and it was only for the challenger in Bordeaux that Pierre-Hugues returned in doubles with Nico.

March gave Nico the ultimate reward for his great performance in Australia, by getting selected for the first time for the french Davis Cup team. And what a debut, Nico and Julien Benneteau made their childhood dream come true, playing Davis cup for their country. The third and winning point was won by them on the Davis Cup saturday.

In april Nico won the challenger title in Saint-Brieuc, winning over Yuichi Sugita in the final. This gave some much needed rankingpoints in singles. He teamed up with Edouard Roger-Vasselin for 3 masters, Miami, Monte Carlo and Madrid.

Once on the clay in may, there’s a third round in Roland Garros to be noted. Nico won over Kimmer Coppejans in the first round, defeated Ernest Gulbis in the second round, before losing to Gilles Simon in the third round in 5 sets: 26 766 766 36 16 . Definately a result to be proud of in his own city.

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Third round Roland Garros

After clay it’s in june time for grass, no surface that suits Nico’s game better than the fast green stuff. Like in 2013, Nico had to qualify first for Topshelf Open. And like in 2013, he did with succes, untill winning the title in a final against David Goffin from Belgium.  The third singlestitle was a fact! In doubles he was with Pierre-Hugues finalists, and they kept the good form for the week after.

Queens 2015 was the first ATP doublestitle for the french duo, winning over Zimonjic/Matkovski in the final. In Wimbledon there was a second round in singles (lost to Berdych) and a third round in doubles. But the fine grass form gave Nico his second selection in one year for the French Davis Cup team.

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Queens doubles title

Coming up next: World Tour Finals

Now that we have one final event left for this year, it’s time to look forward to the Final Showdown. We’re talking about the World Tour Finals of course.

Nico and Pierre-Hugues are the sixth team who qualified for this years event. This was reason for the ATP to make a video about the doublesteam. In case you haven’t seen it, you can watch it here:

Mahut/Herbert on breakthrough year

Today, thursday, will the draw be made in London for the groups for both singles and the doubles. Then we know who are in the group of Nico and Pierre-Hugues for their three group stage matches. This will happen tonight, so stay tuned!

Allez Nico & Pierre-Hugues!

Paris Masters and World Tour finals are the last events of the year

The 2015 season is nearly over, but there’s two more events coming up before Nico can take his rest. Next week is the week of the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris, followed by the World Tour Finals, starting on november 15th in London.

In Paris are Nico and Pierre-Hugues playing together too. It will be the first tournament together again after PH had to retire from doubles in Shanghai. They are fourth seeds there, but we won’t know the draw untill next weekend. With his current singlesranking is Nico the last one to enter the qualification tournament, but the wildcards are not yet given out. Chances are that he’ll get into the maindraw with a wildcard. The tournament should announce the names soon, tomorrow or thursday.

Bonne chance Nico!

Nico plays in Tokyo this week

Tokyo is the current tournament where Nico is playing. For singles, he lost in the final qualifying round to American Austin Krajicek with 4-6 4-6. In doubles it’s a diferent thing, Nico and Pierre-Hugues are the second seeds in the japanese capital, behind the Bryan Brothers.

The first round is played tomorrow (not before 6pm local time, which is 11am France time) on center court against wildcard team of Austiin Krajicek and Yasutaka Uchiyama. In case of a win, they will play the occasional doublesteam of Gilles Simon and Aisam Qureshi, who are already in the quarterfinals.

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(On the picture, Nico in Tokyo with the other french players and his coach Gabi. From Nico’s official facebook site).

No title in Metz, still a good week for Nico

Due to slow wifi connection last week, it was impossible to write a blog update daily, but Nico had another good week last week. In singles he made it to the quarterfinals, giving an awesome fight to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 3 sets. In doubles he was runner up with PH Herbert, losing the final in super tiebreak to the second seeds Roger-Vasselin and Kubot.

Nico showed great tennis in his individual matches. In the first round he was too strong for Federico Delbonis: 6-2 7-5. In the second round, he dismissed fellow frenchman Adrian Mannarino in three sets (6-4 6-7 6-3), to set up a quarterfinal against Tsonga. Nico has never won an atp match over Tsonga, but this time he came really close. It was Nico who won the first set, in the tiebreak. Unfortunately Tsonga won the second one, breaking Nico twice for a 6-3 set. Nico kept his cool and played very strong untill the end of the set, but eventually got nervous and Tsonga broke him for the win: 6-7 6-3 7-5.

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But with reaching the quarterfinals there, Nico can be very proud of the way he played that week in singles. It was enough to rise 4 spots in the rankings again, to number 63.

Metz had the honour of having the US Open champions as first seeds in their tournament. Together with Pierre-Hugues Herbert, it was another excellent week for Nicolas in doubles. They won 3 matches in the first event after winning the US Open. There were wins over Stakhovsky/Marach (the only straight set win with 6-3 6-4), in the quarterinfals over Guccione/Sa (4-6 6-4 10-3) and in the semifinals over Butorac/Lipsky (6-4 4-6 10-3). Those two supertiebreaks were played  very well by the both frenchies. Unfortunately the last tiebreak of the tournament went the wrong way. Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Lukasz Kubot won the final with 2-6 6-3 10-7.

Still it’s another good week, with important points to add to the rankings, while working on their place for the Olympics in Rio next year.

Here are some pictures of Nicolas in Metz last week (from the facebook Moselle Open, taken by Arnaud Briand). His next tournaments are Tokyo and Shanghai, also to work on the rankings with the road to Rio.

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Nico plays in Metz this week

A new week has begun and a new tournament for Nico too. It’s the week of Moselle Open, in Metz. This is a tournament that Nico has won in doubles 3 times in the past. He lifted the trophy in 2003 with Julien Benneteau, in 2004 with Arnaud Clement and in 2012 with Edouard Roger-Vasselin. Nico also made it to the semifinals in singles 2 times here, in 2007 (lost to Tommy Robredo) and in 2013 (lost to Gilles Simon). Safe to say that there must be a lot of good memories in that city.

This years campaign will begin in singles against Federico Delbonis, who was part of the Argentinian Davis cup team in and against Belgium this weekend. Delbonis is only 2 places higher ranked than Nico, so this promises to be a close match. If Nico wins this match, he can face one of the seeded players in the next round; Adrian Mannarino, the 7th seed in Metz.

Of course are the brand new US Open champions both here too, as first seeded team in the doublestournament. The tournament starts tomorrow for Nicolas and Pierre-Hugues, because they’re planned as last match in the evening session. Tomorrows opponents are Oliver Marach and Sergiy Stakhovsky.

Bonne chance Nico!

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(Practice picture made by Natasha Riha)

Nicolas and Pierre-Hugues are first time Grand Slam champions

Remember the old website of Nico? It had a list of goals that he wants to reach in his career. He is building on that list, winning a singles title has happened already a couple of times, and now the goal of winning a Grand Slam in doubles can be ticked off too! Nico is a Grand Slam champion, together with Pierre-Hugues Herbert after winning the US Open.

It’s been a dream end of this years North-American hardcourt season, winning the doublestournament of the last grand slam of the year. Six matches they played together, six times they won together. All started on wednesday in the first week, when they easily won over Estrella-Burgos/Duran with 6-3 6-4.

The next round was a lot more complicated, because there were many errors in that match for the french doublesteam. Luckily they won the match, but it took them two and a half hours to take the third set tie-break. The second set went to Pavic/Venus with 11-9 in the tiebreak, and they also made a quick break in the final set. Luckily, Nicolas and Pierre-Hugues kept their cool and served their way trough the set, to force another tiebreak. Pierre-Hugues celebrated the win on his knees on the court, you could see how relieved they were to reach the next round; .

In the third match, they won quite easy over the seventh seeds from Spain, Granollers/Lopez. The two frenchmen played an excellent match, giving no breakchances to the opponents, serving very well and taking their opportunities when they could. No energy was spilled in this match, that lasted a bit more than an hour.

The quarterfinal was played in the second week, again on a stadium that was a bit bigger than the one before. Again they faced a seeded team, the third seeds this time, and again it was a good victory for the french team. Tecau/Rojer couldn’t do much, and saw Nicolas and Pierre-Hugues hit 41 winning shots in the straight set win. The returns went well too and another victory was a fact in one and a half hour of play.

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Logically, on a quarterfinal follows a semifinal, this time on the same court again as the match before, on the Louis Armstrong stadium. In this match, according to the stats, were especially the volleys working very well for Nicolas and Pierre-Hugues. They scored many points with that. In general, they scored a bit more points in the servicegames and had on the returns more winners too in this straight set win: 7-5 6-2.

And then the big final, the second Grand Slam final of the year for the couple that started working together only at the end of last year. From the beginning they played a very solid match on a not even half filled Arthur Ashe stadium. Nicolas and Pierre-Hugues won 87 percent of their first serve points, and created 7 breakchances. Only 2 of them were used, but it was enough to win both sets with 6-4 6-4, in a bit more than over an hour.

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Oh, the happiness of both players when they celebrated the victory, the roar of Pierre-Hugues and the fall on the ground of Nicolas, with the hands before the face. They did it, they won their first Grand Slam together in New York! Less than a year after they started working together, they already won one of the biggest prizes they could win. And more, they also are on the road to play the year end World Tour Finals in London, because they’re now the 5th team in the race to London. Plus, there are Olympics coming up in 2016, and Nico has said that this is one of his goals too.

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Enjoy the images of the happy guys with their trophy (all pictures from zimbio.com), and for those who like to see it once more, here are the stats of all 6 doubles matches. Check them out if you want:

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