Britain’s Jamie Murray & Neal Skupski won their first title as a pair just hours after being beaten to the last spot at the ATP Finals, which starts at the O2 in London tomorrow, Sunday, leaving Joe Salisbury as the only Briton to qualify for the Finals.
Everybody had doubts... There were doubts about whether people would travel to its location. We had an opportunity to do it in a different way, and we did. It has proved to be the most successful indoor tennis event in the world ever. Chris Kermode, former CEO ATP Tour
They reached the Sofia Open final, but missed out on the ATP Finals after Jurgen Melzer & Edouard Roger-Vasselin won their semi-final.
The two pairs were set to play in Saturday’s final in Bulgaria but Melzer & Roger-Vasselin conceded the Sofia Open title in order to travel to London.
Melzer & Roger-Vasselin secured their place at the season-ending event at the O2 Arena by beating Marin Cilic & Tomislav Brkic, 7-5 6-4, on Friday.
Had Melzer & Roger-Vasselin lost, Murray, 34, and 30-year-old Skupski would have had to beat Marin Cilic & Tomislav Brkic to secure their spot at the O2 for the first time as a pair.
Murray & Neal Skupski earned the same number of points as 8th seeds Lukasz Kubot & Marcelo Melo, but they played more tournaments this year, giving the season finale berth to the Polish-Brazilian duo, but the pair will be the first alternates in London, while Australian Open finalists Max Purcell & Luke Saville will be the second alternates.
There are 8 teams directly qualified into the doubles draw, which is being held in London for the last time before the ATP Finals moves to Turin in Italy from 2021.
Second seeds Rajeev Ram & Salisbury will lead Group Mike Bryan, where the reigning Australian Open champions will compete in round-robin play against back-to-back Roland Garros winners Kevin Krawietz & Andreas Mies, 2017 Wimbledon titlists Kubot & Melo, and Wesley Koolhof & Nikola Mektic, who reached this year’s US Open final.
Top seeds Mate Pavic & Bruno Soares, who triumphed at Flushing Meadows two months ago, highlight Group Bob Bryan while the other teams in that group are Marcel Granollers & Horacio Zeballos, John Peers & Michael Venus, and Melzer & Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
Group Bob Bryan
- Mate Pavic & Bruno Soares
- Marcel Granollers & Horacio Zeballos
- John Peers & Michael Venus
- Jurgen Melzer & Edouard Roger-Vasselin
Group Mike Bryan
- Rajeev Ram & Joe Salisbury
- Kevin Krawietz & Andreas Mies
- Wesley Koolhof & Nikola Mektic
- Lukasz Kubot & Marcelo Melo
The final spot in this year’s Nitto ATP Finals doubles field was not decided until Friday, when Melzer & Roger-Vasselin advanced to the Sofia Open final.
The doubles groups at the 2020 year-end championships are named after legendary doubles team Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, who announced their retirement earlier this year.
The American twins competed together in the Nitto ATP Finals 15 times, triumphing on four occasions, while Mike Bryan also lifted the prestigious trophy alongside Jack Sock in 2018.
Doubles play is spotlighted at the ATP Finals and, recently Chris Kermode, the man who brought the season-ending championships to London, told Stuart Fraser of The Times how the tournament, in its last year at O2, has thrived.
“Everybody had doubts,” Kermode recalled. “I remember standing at The O2 in the winter when the arena was still being built.
“The outside was pretty desolate and some were questioning whether the arena would be successful at that point. There were doubts about whether people would travel to its location.”
Kermode admitted that his idea, 13 years ago, of holding two separate sessions per day in an 18,000-capacity arena was then considered ‘ludicrous’.
“I was convinced there was a market that would work during the day, and [people] want to go to the tournament in the evening, like the theatre, concerts or other forms of entertainment,” Kermode said.
“We had an opportunity to do it in a different way, and we did. It has proved to be the most successful indoor tennis event in the world ever.”
Doubles matches precede the singles matches in each session, warming up the crowd, but this year, the 50th anniversary of the Nitto ATP Finals, spectators will be absent due to coronavirus restrictions.
Organisers have had to impose many restrictions to make sure everyone stays safe, with the players staying at the InterContinental hotel, which is right next to the O2 Arena.
They will all be tested on arrival and have had to be isolated until the test results arrive, while anyone who tests positive will not be allowed to play the tournament.
Once players are tested, they don’t have to be tested again during the tournament unless they show COVID-19 symptoms.
They are not to leave the secure bubble at any time and, if they do, they will be disqualified immediately.
The last event of 2020 will not have line judges at any match to reduce the number of people on the court and ,instead, will be using Hawk-Eye Live, which was first used at the Cincinnati Masters in New York in September.
Order of Play
Sunday 15 November, starts 12:00 noon GMT on Amazon Prime Video
-  K. Krawietz (GER) / A. Mies (GER) vs  W. Koolhof (NED) / N. Mektic (CRO)
Not Before 2:00 pm
-  D. Thiem (AUT) vs  S. Tsitsipas (GRE)
Not Before 6:00 pm
-  R. Ram (USA) / J. Salisbury (GBR) vs  L. Kubot (POL) / M. Melo (BRA)
Not Before 8:00 pm
-  R. Nadal (ESP) vs  A. Rublev (RUS)
Monday 16 November, starts 12:00 noon GMT on Amazon Prime Video
-  M. Granollers (ESP) / H. Zeballos (ARG) vs  J. Peers (AUS) / M. Venus (NZL)
Not Before 2:00 pm
-  N. Djokovic (SRB) vs  D. Schwartzman (ARG)
Not Before 6:00 pm
-  M. Pavic (CRO) / B. Soares (BRA) vs  J. Melzer (AUT) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA)
Not Before 8:00 pm
-  D. Medvedev (RUS) vs  A. Zverev (GER)