Kubot/Melo Close In On Nitto ATP Finals Crown

Polish/Brazilian team eye seventh trophy of 2017

Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo stand one match win away from their 50th victory of the year and the Nitto ATP Finals title, which would represent their seventh trophy over the past 11 months.

The top-seeded Polish-Brazilian team, who have clinched the 2017 year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings, knocked out eighth seed Ryan Harrison of the United States and New Zealand’s Michael Venus 6-1, 6-4 in 64 minutes on Saturday for a place in the title match.

Kubot and Melo, who are 49-17 on the season, will bid to capture their seventh title of 2017 against second seeds and defending champions Henri Kontinen and John Peers, who defeated fourth seeds Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares 7-6(2), 6-2 during Saturday’s evening session.

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Kubot and Melo were solid on serve in the 23-minute first set, taking a 5-0 lead with their dynamic net play and aggressive returns. Harrison then held to 30 to register the first game for this year’s Roland Garros champions.

The second set was more competitive. Harrison and Venus went close to a 3-1 advantage, but were unable to convert two break point opportunities on Melo’s serve. Quick hands at the net, a feature of Melo’s world-class play this week, almost reaped dividends at 3-3, when Venus did well to fight back from a 15/40 deficit.

The crucial break came at 4-4 on Harrison’s serve, when Kubot struck a backhand return to Venus at the net, who volleyed long. Kubot then coolly closed out to 15 with Venus striking a forehand into the net.

Kubot said that the team was delighted to return to form so quickly after a disappointing 6-2, 6-4 loss to Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares Friday night. "After a match like last night we're very happy to come back and get through," he said.

"We are very happy to go through to the final in our first time playing here as a team and we'll have fun tomorrow," Melo said.

The 34-year-old Melo partnered Ivan Dodig to the 2014 title match, when they lost to Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan. Kubot’s previous-best result had also come three years ago in reaching the semi-finals with Robert Lindstedt (l. to Dodig/Melo).

Harrison and Venus, who had been making their debuts at the Nitto ATP Finals this week, having gone through Group Eltingh-Haarhuis with a perfect 3-0 record. They finish their seasons with a 21-14 match record, highlighted by the Millennium Estoril Open (d. Marrero/Robredo) and their first major triumph at Roland Garros (d. Gonzalez/Young).