© Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers saved four match points to win their opening match at the Nitto ATP Finals.

Granollers/Zeballos Save Four Match Points For Turin Win

Fourth seeds come from behind to secure win no. 25 of 2021

Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos produced a spectacular comeback to open their 2021 Nitto ATP Finals account with a win.

On their second appearance at the season-ending finale as a team, Granollers and Zeballos saved four match points and came back from 1-4 down in the second set to beat Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek 4-6, 7-6(10), 10-6.

Dodig and Polasek had not played together since Wimbledon in July, where they lost in the second round to Jaume Munar and Cameron Norrie. In the interim, Granollers and Zeballos had reached the Wimbledon final and won their second ATP Masters 1000 title of the year in Cincinnati. Despite the hiatus in their partnership, the Croatian-Slovakian duo proved as lethal in the early stages of the match in Turin as they had in Melbourne in January. But in the long run, it was the more polished pairing who prevailed.

In a tightly-contested first set, it was the returning prowess of Polasek that made the difference. With Zeballos serving at 4-5, the door was opened for the Croatian-Slovakian pairing with Zeballos’ first double fault of the set followed by a dazzling forehand return winner from Polasek for 15-30. A clever shot from Dodig forced an error for two set points and the sixth seeds immediately converted with another lethal forehand from Polasek.

Dodig and Polasek appeared to have the match well in hand when they broke for 3-1 in the second set, proving able to read the Zeballos serve effectively once more. But the Wimbledon finalists found their own returning game in the nick of time, breaking Dodig’s serve to 15 to get back on serve for 3-4.

Dodig and Granollers have played at the Nitto ATP Finals as both opponents and partners in the past, and the Croatian read the Spaniard’s serve to perfection to set up three match points only for Granollers to fend off all three with some of his best deliveries of the match.

Momentum continued to oscillate in the ensuing tie-break. Dodig and Polasek saved four set points, while Zeballos produced the shot of the match off the forehand wing to erase a fourth match point.

But it was the doubles savvy of Granollers, the only one of the four to have won the season-ending championships in the past, which made the difference as he and Zeballos converted their fifth set point to reach a match tie-break.

Semi-finalists at the Nitto ATP Finals in 2020, Granollers and Zeballos thoroughly dominated the match tie-break to secure their 25th match win of the season.

The comeback victory sees Granollers and Zeballos move into second place in the Green Group behind top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, who secured a straight-sets victory over Kevin Krawietz and Horia Tecau in the opening match of the Nitto ATP Finals.