McDonald/Melo Win Tokyo Title in Team Debut
Mackenzie McDonald and Marcelo Melo completed a dream debut week as a pair by claiming the Tokyo doubles title on Sunday. The American-Brazilian duo won its second Match Tie-break of the week to defeat third seeds Rafael Matos and David Vega Hernandez 6-4, 3-6, 10-4 at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships.
"It was a long time since I played here in Tokyo," said Melo, who won the 2015 title in his last appearance at the ATP 500 event, alongside Raven Klaasen. "I always wanted to come back. I'm very happy to get another title here in Tokyo."
"First doubles title for me," added McDonald, "so it's pretty special to do it here in Japan."
Each of the first two sets were decided by a single, early break. The teams switched ends for the first time in the Match Tie-break knotted at 3/3, before McDonald and Melo won four straight points to take command. Melo dominated at the net to spark the crucial run, with McDonald adding an exclamation point with a return winner for 7/3.
After two big serves from the Brazilian brought up a host of match points, before the pair clinched the title in style. Melo was able to fashion a lob from a defensive reflex volley, and he then put the next ball way to secure the title.
"It was a very tough match," said Melo, who reached out to McDonald to form the new partnership. "[Matos and Vega Hernandez] are playing very good. They just won a title last week [in Sofia], they've played together. I think it was important for me and Mackie to play the same way as we were playing since the beginning, focus on what we have to do.
"Today was tricky. A Match Tie-break, you never know what can happen. But we played very good. Mackie helped a lot, he played very good, as well. We are very happy. It's not easy to play for the first time."
McDonald, 27, earned his first ATP Tour title in singles or doubles with the victory. He was appearing in his first doubles final, having also competed in the Washington, D.C. singles final in 2021.
"I haven't played a lot of doubles with doubles guys, so it's actually really nice playing with him," he said of the partnership with Melo. "His serve is good, he wants to play 'I' formation, he cleans up at the net... He kind of complements where I don't fill all the holes. It worked out pretty well with that. It's nice playing with a guy that can win points and put the ball away."
Melo, 39, clinched his 36th tour-level doubles title — and first since 2020 — in his 70th final. In addition to his 2015 Tokyo title with Klaasen, he also reached the 2014 final with Ivan Dodig.
Following the match, he discussed his love for Japan: "I feel very good here mainly because of the Japanese people," he said. "They are very respectful, they are very nice. You go in the streets. you see everybody respects each other. The food of course is amazing. I love sushi, I love the food."
Matos and Vega Hernandez were seeking back-to-back titles after their trophy run in Sofia last week. They have won four titles on the season, with their other victories coming in Marrakech (their team debut), Mallorca and Bastad.