The top-ranked pair of 2017, Kubot and Melo came into the tournament as the third-seeded pair. However, they never really found their groove and ended up losing both their opening group matches to Bryan/ Sock and Herbert/ Mahut. It was a do-or-die battle for the Polish/Brazillian pair as they were up against the top-seeds. They rose to the challenge to finish their season on a high note winning their final Group match 7-6(4), 6-4 in just over an hour and a half at the O2 Arena in London.
Kubot and Melo improved to 40-22 win-loss record on the season, which includes four ATP World Tour victories at the Sydney International, Halle Open, Beijing Open and the Shanghai Rolex Masters. The duo also finished runner-ups to Bryan and Sock at the US Open.
Marcelo Melo engineered the first big chance of the match with a splendid backhand return of Pavic's serve to break the Croat's serve in the very first game, although Marach and Pavic clawed their way back to level at 2-2 capitalizing on a double fault by Kubot. Rallies were pretty long in the first set and in the Match Tie-break, an error of the Pavic forehand handed the set to the Polish-Brazillian pairing.
Marach and Pavic raced to a 3-1 lead in the second set but couldn't make use of the break as Pavic was broken yet again to enable their opponents to level the score at 3-3. Melo held on to his service game and so did Marach. It was the Pavic serve which again faltered at 5-4. A marvellous backhand down the middle by Kubot set up the first match point of the match. Pavic's service was returned powerfully by Kubot and it elicited yet another unforced error from Pavic whose forehand could only hit the net. Both the teams are level with one win and 2 losses but Marach and Pavic have won more games, hence keeping them in contention.
The second semi-finals qualifier from the group will either be Marach and Pavic or the French duo of Herbert and Mahut depending on the outcome of the final Group match in the Knowles/Nestor group.Published 16 Nov 2018, 23:45 IST