Pavic/Marach Off To Strong Start In London
Top seeds own 52-17 tour-level record this season
Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic got off to a winning start at the Nitto ATP Finals on Monday. The top-seeded Austrian/Croatian team recorded their first win in their fourth meeting against eighth-seeded Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 7-6(3) over one hour and 47 minutes in their first Group Knowles/Nestor match. It was a repeat of 2018 finals at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam and at Roland Garros.
Marach and Pavic improved to a 52-17 record on the season, which included three straight titles – in Doha, Auckland and the Australian Open – and a 17-match winning streak at the start of the year. The pair also won the Geneva title and finished as runner-up at five other tournaments. They will be presented the year-end ATP World Tour Doubles No. 1 trophy later this week.
Herbert came under immediate pressure in the first game, with Mahut saving a deciding deuce point with a volley poach. However, two games later, Mahut’s serve was broken on a deciding point as Marach and Pavic started to dominate at the net.
But with Pavic serving at 30/30 in the seventh game of the first set, Mahut chased down a ball close to the advertising boards and fell into the line judges chair. The 36-year-old required on-court treatment and strapping to his left ankle/shin. Play resumed after a nine-minute delay, but the French pair left the arena after Herbert held for 4-5. After a further six minutes, Herbert and Mahut returned, but could not save the set.
Herbert double-faulted on the deciding deuce point at the start of the second set, then Mahut — in his first service game since his treatment — earned a confidence-boosting hold on a deciding deuce point in the third game. One break of service looked to be enough for the top seeds, but Pavic lost his at 4-3 in a run of three games for the Frenchmen. But Marach and Pavic, who served as alternates at the 2017 season finale, regrouped and took early control of the tie-break.
Herbert and Mahut, who had been bidding to earn their third win in nine matches at the Nitto ATP Finals, dropped to a 20-10 record on the year. They have qualified for the tournament for a fourth year running.