Rojer/Tecau On The Board in London
Former champions Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau played with terrific energy, full of attacking intent on Wednesday at the Nitto ATP Finals, where they beat the 2019 year-end No. 1 team Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-2, 5-7, 10-8 in Group Max Mirnyi over 90 minutes.
Rojer and Tecau, winners of the 2015 season finale at The O2 in London and the year’s No. 1 duo, are now 1-1 in round-robin play. With a 31-22 record in 2019, the Dutch-Romanian tandem has won two ATP Tour titles at the Mutua Madrid Open (d. Schwartzman/Thiem) and at the Swiss Indoors Basel (d. Fritz/Opelka).
“I’m happy with our form,” Rojer told ATPTour.com. “We lost the first match and knew we’d need to bounce back against a very good team this year. We played a very good first set, prior to them making adjustments in the second set. We played a really good tie-break, how we stuck in together and found solutions.”
“We both like to change things around if it doesn’t work and that makes a high level of tennis when we meet the Colombians,” Tecau told ATPTour.com. “It comes down to a few points.”
Cabal twice came under pressure in his service games, with the potency of Tecau’s returns giving the Colombian team real difficulties. Rojer and Tecau took a 3-1 lead after a backhand crosscourt winner from Tecau, and at 5-2, Tecau ripped a backhand return that Cabal volleyed up, only to see Rojer cross to poach to seal the 28-minute opener.
Farah came alive at 5-5 in the 46-minute second set, latching onto returns to create three break point chances on Rojer’s serve. Cabal capitalised on a miscommunication, returning down the line then rushing forward for a simple forehand volley. Minutes later, the 33-year-old Cabal closed out to love for a Match Tie-break.
Rojer and Tecau took a 6/2 lead in the Match Tie-break, but their opponents whittled away the advantage – recovering to 6/6. From that point, the pressure was firmly on Rojer and Tecau, who regrouped from a 7/8 deficit with three straight points – including a clutch angled volley from Tecau, which left Farah diving. Tecau, the best performer on the court, had the final say: hitting a forehand return that Farah mistimed out.
Cabal and Farah, who beat Rojer and Tecau in five sets en route to their first Grand Slam championship crown in July at Wimbledon, are now 49-18 on the season. The pair also lifted trophies at the US Open (d. Granollers/Zeballos), the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d J. Murray/Soares), Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome (d. Klaasen/Venus) and the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne (d. M. Gonzalez/Zeballos).