Hard Graft Helps Kubot Rise To No. 1
ATPWorldTour.com pays tribute to the new doubles No. 1
As Marcelo Melo’s results dropped off from the 2017 Brisbane International presented by Suncorp and the clock edged closer to midnight in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, on Sunday night, 9,347 miles away — and with a 16-hour time difference — in Sydney, Australia, Lukasz Kubot received news.
The 35-year-old Pole had risen to No. 1 in the ATP Doubles Rankings, tied with his partner Melo. For the first time since Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan jointly held top spot for the final time on 25 October 2015, the team discipline has two stand-out performers.
Speaking at the Sydney International on Tuesday, having reflected on the achievement overnight, Kubot told ATPWorldTour.com, “It’s a dream. As a doubles player, I am very happy and proud of my achievements with Marcelo [Melo] last year. It paid off, we’re now the No. 1 team [in the Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings] and also No. 1s in the individual list as well.
“It means a lot to me. I’m shocked by this, but I think the passion and hard work we undertake every day continues to drive us forward.”
While Kubot starts his first week at No. 1, Melo begins his 41st week in the top spot — having attained the lofty position for the first time on 2 November 2015. After a 2017 season of hard graft, including six titles (including Wimbledon and three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns) from 10 finals, it is fitting that Kubot and his Brazilian partner should stand together.
“We’re focusing on the big events and use Marcelo’s experience - in those situations and being No. 1 before,” said Kubot. “For me, it’s a new situation. Right now we’re coming to tournaments as favourites, so there is a lot of pressure on our shoulders, but we continue to work hard every day. We’re still trying to improve a lot of things, do our best and develop some new patterns of play. It’s going to be an interesting year.”
As a singles competitor, the former World No. 41 Kubot reached two ATP World Tour finals at 2009 Belgrade (l. Djokovic) and the 2010 Brasil Open (l. Ferrero). He also contested an all-Polish quarter-final against Jerzy Janowicz at Wimbledon in July 2013. But he solely focused on doubles in late August 2016 and this week he has become the 51st player since 1976 to reach the pinnacle of the sport.
"It’s great for Poland," said Kubot. "I’m happy that I’m one of the ambassadors for tennis in the country, putting Polish tennis on the map of the world. I’m very happy and proud. I’m grateful to Wojtek Fibak, who was No. 2 in doubles [5 February 1979] and Top 10 in singles [25 July 1977]. He gave me a lot of advice, from his experience, and motivation. I learned a lot from former No. 1s to get here, such as Jonas Bjorkman. I still want to get better, remain healthy and to stay on the Tour as long as I can."
Kubot and Melo began their 2018 ATP World Tour season and their quest for a ninth team crown on a strong note, defeating Florin Mergea and Nenad Zimonjic 7-6(6), 6-3. They will face Damir Dzumhur and Roman Jebavy in the second round on Wednesday.