Daniel Nestor, Nenad Zimonjic win Italian Open doubles crown
Partners head into French Open as favourites
Canadian Daniel Nestor and Serbian partner Nenad Zimonjic claimed a second consecutive clay-court title Sunday as they won the Italian Open 6-4, 7-6 (2) over Dutchman Robin Haase and Spain's Feliciano Lopez.
The victorious sixth seeds backed up their Madrid trophy of last weekend with Masters 1000 success at the Foro Italico, claiming the title in 84 minutes with eight aces and three breaks of serve.
The pair have now won 27 trophies as a team. They lifted their first of 2014 in January in Sydney and added Madrid and Rome to head into the French Open starting next weekend as favourites.
"We're playing mentally tough right now," said Nestor. "We've faced a lot of good opponents but we've found a way to win with all the ups and downs.
"On clay there are a lot of momentum chances. We've been doing a good job of playing relaxed on clay, a lot of momentum chances, doing a good job of playing relaxed and staying with our game plan. We'v been playing well these last few weeks and we are confident going to Paris."
Toronto's Nestor has won four Roland Garros titles since 2007, the last one two years ago with former partner Max Mirnyi of Belarus.
"It's always nice to go back to back, especially the way we've been winning." said Nestor. "We've shown a lot of resilience. We are dealing well with any situation on court, that's a feeling going into a grand slam. We hope to keep this up in Paris, but nothing is easy. If we stay mentally strong, we give ourselves a chance to win (in Paris).
"We'll continue training, we have to adjust to longer matches. We'll keep building and try to be as ready as possible for Roland Garros."
Nestor, 41, now owns 85 doubles titles from 140 finals and remains in third place in the post-1968 Open era doubles title leaderboard behind Mike Bryan (100) and Bob Bryan (98).
Nestor and Zimonjic came back quickly after Nestor was broken in the third game of the match, recovering the break for 3-3. They earned the set after 36 minutes with a concluding break.
Zimonjic lost serve early in the second set but two double-faults from Lopez set up break-back points, which were converted for 2-2.
Nestor's team hung onto their clay momentum as the set moved into a tiebreaker. They earned the victory on the first of four match points.