Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic earned a statement win Wednesday at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin, where the Croatian duo defeated top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski 6-4, 7-6(3) to reach the semi-finals at the prestigious season finale for the second consecutive year.
There was a former Nitto ATP Finals champion on both sides of the net in Wednesday’s clash. Koolhof and Mektic lifted the trophy together in London in 2020, but it was Mektic and Pavic, the 14-time tour-level title-winning team, who marginally retained the upper hand throughout a high-quality 93-minute encounter.
“It is great to know that we have qualified after two matches,” Pavic said. “It was a great match. Not easy to play them. They had a great season, full of confidence. We have played them once before and we won and now again, so we have a great match up against them. We are happy to be through.”
Mektic and Pavic made a fast start at the Pala Alpitour, where they clinched the sole break of the first set in the opening game. The fourth seeds were both strong behind serve, with Pavic’s swinging lefty delivery proving particularly effective as the pair fired 10 aces and saved three of three break points. They clinched a crucial mini-break on the opening point of the second-set tie-break that proved enough to secure the win and move to 2-0 in Green Group.
“The match could not have started better for us,” Mektic said. “That was the crucial point in the match. We started with the lead and that is a big advantage on these courts. In the second set we were very confident on our serve, having good looks and making good chances on return.”
Mektic and Pavic arrived in Turin seeking to become ATP Tour champions for the sixth time this year. The duo won at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in May, when it also defeated Koolhof and Skupski in the quarter-finals on the Rome clay. The pair then lifted trophies in Geneva, at The Queen’s Club in London, in Eastbourne and in Astana.
Dutchman Koolhof and Briton Skupski, who defeated Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios in a Match Tie-break in their opening match, are now 1-1 this week in Turin. They will next take on Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek in their final Green Group match on Friday as they seek to join Mektic and Pavic in the semi-finals.