It came with little surprise last year when the then world No. 1’s Damien Mudge & Ben Gould earned their fifth-consecutive Tavern Club Invitational title without dropping a game in the tournament’s ten-year anniversary. In February, the Australians graced the cover of Squash Magazine with Gould announcing his retirement from the full-time tour after the partnership won its first Briggs Cup title in December on top of five other tournament wins in the fall. Thus ended the most dominant partnership of the last five years with a 189-7 record and fifty-five titles, which included each major title on the tour, the 2013 World Doubles title and the $100,000 Briggs to cap it off.
Mudge continued full-time on tour with former partner Viktor Berg, who won the inaugural Tavern Club Invitational in 2006 with Chris Walker and the 2008 and 2009 Tavern Club titles with Mudge. Mudge & Berg’s rekindled partnership reached five finals, winning two of them since January.
When the Tavern Club draw was released last month, the tour was in for a shock expecting Mudge & Berg to head the draw, but instead seeing a new top seed and first-time partnership in the form of Gould on the right wall and world No. 3 Manek Mathur on the left wall. The draw predicts the first match in which Gould and Mudge would face off since the 2010 Kellner Cup in the final.
The top two sides must get through a difficult draw first before relishing the Mudge & Gould reunion. The top seeds are predicted to meet Trinity tandem Jacques Swanepoel, who won the Hashim Khan title last month, & Shaun Johnstone. The top half of the draw involves a family affair with the three Roberts brothers facing off in the same match against each other in the first round. The eldest of three state-side brothers (the eldest of four remains in England), Dan pairs with SDA veteran Greg McArthur against his younger brothers and Yale graduates, John & Joseph. In the bottom half of the draw 2012 Tavern Club finalists Jonny Smith & Greg park weigh in as three seeds with a semifinal predicted against Mudge & Berg.
The Tavern Club Invitational’s draw is set to be one of the most unpredictable of the season, with the only certainty being the spectacle of world-class squash doubles.
Qualifying begins Thursday afternoon at 12pm local time. Watch main draw matches on SDA Live.