Staged in the shadow of men's singles tennis, the doubles competition often has to offer amazing drama and excitement, and it is not easy to set any kind of dominance in a fearsome competition. Playing with Oliver Marach, the young Croatian star Mate Pavic (born in Split, just like Goran Ivanisevic) has managed to do that, starting the year ranked 17th and climbing up to 5th before Rome. The chase for the number 1 spot was wide open at the Foro Italico and it was Lukasz Kubot, the current world number 1, who felt the pressure on his back, having to beat Pavic's result in Rome to remain at the top of the standings.
Kubot and Marcelo Melo were defeated in the quarter-final by the Colombians Cabal and Farah and despite a loss to Cuevas and Granollers in the same round, Mate Pavic has passed the Pole for 30 points (Pavic, Kubot, Melo and Marach are separated by 70 points!) and he would become the new number 1 on Monday, the 52nd in the history of the ATP doubles ranking that started in 1976 and also the youngest since Todd Woodbridge in February 1996! The 24-year-old Croatian has been on a constant rise ever since he started to compete on the professional Tour (he was the fifth best junior in 2011, winning Wimbledon doubles with George Morgan), entering the Top 200 at the age of 18 and finding his place among the elite Top 100 a year later, just before turning 20.
A tall player with the great serve, movement and net coverage has won his first Futures title in 2011 at the age of 18 and he reached the final of ATP 250 event in Zagreb with Ivan Dodig in February 2012, losing to Marcos Baghdatis and Mikhail Youzhny.
The first Challenger crown came later that season and Mate was back in the final of Zagreb in 2013 with Dodig, leaving empty-handed once again but making a swift progress through the rankings. Playing alongside Marin Draganja, Pavic claimed six Challenger titles in 2013 and they had a chance to compete at the Australian Open in January 2014, which was another huge step forward for the talented youngster.
In 2015, Mate started to play with Michael Venus and it was an instant success, reaching three back-to-back Challenger finals and winning two titles before they went all the way in Nice, toppling Roger and Tecau in the title match for the first ATP crown for the promising Croatian, the first of 11 he has won so far.
They have lost a few more finals before lifting the trophy in Auckland at the start of 2016, conquering Montpellier and Marseille in February as well before a dominant role in s-Hertogenbosch too. Competing with Marin Cilic, Pavic has reached the semi-final of Shanghai Masters and he was ready for an even bigger year in 2017, claiming the title in Marrakech and finding a perfect partner in Oliver Marach since Budapest.
These two have lost in three ATP finals on grass, in Stuttgart, Antalya and Wimbledon (heartbreaking loss to Kubot and Melo, 13-11 in the decider) before Mate claimed Hamburg with his old partner Ivan Dodig. Pavic and Marach won the title in Stockholm and they had a chance to compete at the ATP Finals when they replaced Dodig and Granollers, beating Bob and Mike Bryan in straight sets.
The best was yet to come, though, as Mate and Oliver kicked off 2018 season with 17 straight wins, winning Doha, Auckland and the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam crown in a career for Mate. They collected points in the rest of the first half of the year and Mate has finally catch Kubot and Melo at the top of the standings, becoming world number 1 from Monday at such a young age for doubles terms.