ATP Finals 2018

Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic get ATP’s No1 doubles team award after opening win

Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic start their Nitto ATP Finals campaign on Monday with a 6-4, 7-6(3) victory over Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut

Marianne Bevis
By Marianne Bevis at The O2
Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic Photo: Marianne Bevis

The top seeds Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic got off to a winning start at the Nitto ATP Finals on Monday with their first win in four meetings against No8 seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, 6-4, 7-6(3).

It was a repeat of 2018 finals in Rotterdam and at the French Open, which the French duo won, but the Austrian-Croatian pair clinched the year-end top spot for the first time with title runs at Doha, Auckland, Geneva, Chengdu and the Australian Open. They reached a total of nine finals including Roland Garros and Monte Carlo.

This match was packed with incident. After the French pair was broken, Mahut chased down a ball at the back of the court and fell heavily onto the line judge chair and advertising hoarding, skinning his ankle and shin and thumping his back.

The 36-year-old required on-court treatment and strapping to his left ankle and shin, but after play continued, Mahut needed another break off court for treatment to his back. It was a difficult delay, but the Marach-Pavic duo served out the set regardless.

Herbert double-faulted to concede his serve at the start of the second set, but Pavic lost his at 4-3 in a run of three games for the Frenchmen. However, Marach and Pavic dominated the deciding tie-break to confirm that first win.

Their group is a tough one that includes the winners of all four Major doubles titles in 2018 and the last two year-end No1 teams.

Herbert and Mahut won their third Major at Roland Garros, while 2017 year-end No1s Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo lost in the final of the US Open against Mike Bryan and Jack Sock, who they played again in their opener in London. Prior to the US Open, Bryan and Sock also won the Wimbledon title in their Major team debut.

It was a dynamic affair, with the Americans storming through the first set in under half an hour, 6-3. They had to fight harder in the second, almost another hour and through a close tie-break, 7-6(5), but continue to look like the team of the tournament—at just the time when Mike’s twin brother Bob has announced he will return from injury for the New Year.

Marach and Pavic are the first players from their respective countries to achieve the No1 feat in any of the ATP rankings, while Marach, 38, is the oldest member of the year-end No1 doubles team since 1984, and 25-year-old Pavic the youngest member since 1995.

This marks the fifth straight year in which a different team has finished at year-end No1, and their opening win in London took them to 52-17 for this season.

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