In Tuesday’s round-robin doubles matches at the Nitto ATP Finals, 5th seeds Wesley Koolhof of The Netherlands & Nikola Mektic of Croatia upset the 2nd seeds, Rajeev Ram of the United States & Britain’s Joe Salisbury, 7-6(5) 6-0, to seal the first semi-final berth of the doubles competition, while the No 3 seeds Kevin Krawietz & Andreas Mies of Germany beat 8th seeds Lukasz Kubot of Poland & Marcelo Melo of Brazil, 6-2 7-6(5).
The first match was a very close one. It’s a good thing we played two tiebreaks in that one, so we were confident going into the tiebreak in this first set. Of course, the race is still open for that No 1 doubles spot. Let’s hope we’ll be on top at the end of the weekend. Wesley Koolhof
On their debut as a team at the year-end finals, Koolhof & Mektic accelerated past Ram & Salisbury, delivering a master class after successfully navigating through a tough opening set before soaring ahead to win in an hour and 21 minutes.
“I mean, no one expected it to be 6-0 [in the second set],” Mektic said in the on-court interview. “We played really well in the first set, so the only thing we wanted to do was keep the level.
“We were really pushing ourselves to do that. We had a good start in the second, and somehow [this score] happened.
“The first set was really close and then the second set… it’s not really realistic, but we’ll take it.”
Mektic previously competed at the 2018 edition of the Nitto ATP Finals in London, but it is Koolhof’s first appearance and he is bidding to become the 4th Dutchman to win the doubles title at the O2.
The win sent them into the semi-finals of the season-finale for the first time, after opening their campaign with a 6-7(3) 7-6(4), 10-7 victory over 3rd seeds Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies.
In addition to the title, they are one of the teams vying to end the year at the top of the FedEx ATP Doubles Team Rankings.
“[The nerves] feel good so far, I would say,” Koolhof said. “For me, it’s my debut year and so far things have been going great.
“The first match was a very close one. It’s a good thing we played two tiebreaks in that one, so we were confident going into the tiebreak in this first set.
“Of course, the race is still open for that No 1 doubles spot. Let’s hope we’ll be on top at the end of the weekend.”
After a narrow loss in their opening match, Kevin Krawietz & Andreas Mies earned an impressive 6-2, 7-6(5) victory on Tuesday afternoon against Lukasz Kubot & Marcelo Melo.
The two-time Roland Garros champions converted 3 of their 4 break points to claim their first victory of the tournament and improved to 1-1 in Group Mike Bryan as the Germans, who ended their tournament debut at The O2 last year with a 1-2 record, attempt to qualify for the semi-finals in London for the first time.
“It was huge to win in two sets,” said Mies in an on-court interview. “We didn’t get off to a great start [in the] first match, two days ago… It was important to come back strong today and play much better.
“That happened and I am very proud of us, that we came back, bounced back and played a great match today. Winning in two sets in the round robin system is always very big.”
Krawietz & Mies gained revenge for a recent semi-final loss to Kubot & Melo at last month’s Erste Bank Open when Kubot & Melo recovered from a set down to lift the ATP 500 trophy in Vienna.
“In the round robin system we always have a chance, even if we lose the first match… We have nothing to lose,” said Krawietz. “We had to go for it, we had to be pumped and I think we played really well today.”
Krawietz & Mies began the match in top form, anticipating well and striking multiple return winners to break in 2 of their opening 3 return games.
After dropping serve at 4-1, the 3rd seeds struck another return winner to claim their 3rd break before serving out the set after 30 minutes.
In the second, both teams dominated behind their first serves to reach the breaker in which Krawietz closed the net effectively to earn 2 mini-breaks and the win after an hour and 23 minutes.
“It was a big advantage to get off to a good start today, because it was pretty painful to lose that match two days ago from a good position,” said Mies. “We had it in our hands and we let it slip because we didn’t go for it in the end.
“We were hoping for them to make errors and that was a big mistake.
“The key today was to come out, go for it, get the win ourselves and not wait for errors. That was very good and the start helped, for sure.”
Kubot & Melo drop to 0-2 in Group Mike Bryan, the 2017 finalists having fallen in 7 sets to Ram & Salisbury on Sunday.
The Polish/Brazilian team face Koolhof & Mektic in their final round robin match but cannot now qualify.
With Koolhof & Mektic already in the semis, the advancement scenarios in Group Mike Bryan now depend on Ram & Salisbury facing Krawietz & Mies, with the winners moving on to the final four.