Kubot/Melo Qualify For Semi-finals, Finish Group With 2-1 Record

Match Tie-break needed in London clash

Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo booked their places in the semi-finals at the Nitto ATP Finals on Thursday afternoon after they finished Group Jonas Bjorkman with a 2-1 round-robin record.

Second seeds Kubot and Melo, the 2017 runners up, edged past fourth seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury 6-7(5), 6-4, 10-7 in one hour and 44 minutes at The O2 in London.

Kubot and Melo finish second in the group behind fifth seeds Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus. They are now 46-21 on the season, which includes the Winston-Salem Open title (d. Monroe-Sandgren).

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At 1-2, Kubot came under pressure, double faulting at 30/40, for a sudden death deuce, which saw quick reactions by Salisbury when under fire from Melo. Ram and Salisbury led 4-1, but Salisbury dropped his serve to love in the seventh game. Having missed out on two set points on Kubot’s serve when leading 6-5, Ram and Salisbury held their nerve in the tie-break.

The 35-minute second set was equally close, but aggressive play on return at 5-4 from Melo created a set point on Kubot’s serve. A well-placed lob from Melo got Salisbury scrambling, but the Londoner could not successfully retrieve it.

Kubot and Melo took a 6/2 advantage in the Match Tie-break, only to see Ram and Salisbury work their way back. Finally, at 9/7, on their fourth match point, Melo struck an angled backhand volley to Ram, who netted a forehand.

Ram and Salisbury, who beat Kubot and Melo in the recent Erste Bank Open final in Vienna, finish the year with a 39-24 match record in 2019. They also clinched the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships crown (d. McLachlan/Struff) and finished runner-up in three other finals.