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Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic celebrate winning the Rome doubles title on Sunday over Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury.

Mektic/Pavic Win Sixth Trophy Of Season In Rome

Croatians have reached all four ATP Masters 1000 finals this year

Croatians Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic powered their way to a sixth trophy — and third ATP Masters 1000 crown — of the season on Sunday with victory in the Internazionali BNL d'Italia final.

The second seeds completed the week without dropping a set after a 6-4, 7-6(4) win over fifth seeds Rajeev Ram of the United States and Briton Joe Salisbury in 84 minutes at the Foro Italico in Rome.

“It feels great and we’re very happy with the way we played the whole tournament,” said Pavic. “We didn’t drop a set, so it showed how well we played throughout the week. It was a tough match. There were only a couple of chances in the first set before it became tighter in the second set from 6/0 to 6/4 [in the tie-break]. I hope we can keep going.

"The goal is to qualify for the [Nitto] ATP Finals in Turin. I was hoping we’d have good results, but it has surprised me a little bit as we hadn’t played together before this year.”

Mektic added, “Mate hit some good returns in the tie-break. It was a tough second set and we struggled with the return, as this court is a little faster than the other courts. It’s been an amazing year, but we expected to do well [at the start of the year].”

Mektic and Pavic, who follow in the footsteps of compatriot Goran Ivanisevic, who won the 1991 Rome doubles title with Italian Omar Camporese, are now 6-2 in 2021 championship matches.

Mektic, 32, and Pavic, 27, who are No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Doubles Team Rankings with a 37-4 match record this year, also clinched titles at the Antalya Open (d. Dodig/Polasek), Murray River Open in Melbourne (d. Chardy/Martin), ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam (d. Krawietz/Tecau), the Miami Open presented by Itau and Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (d. Evans/N. Skupski both times).

A lack of first serves cost Ram in the fifth game of the first set, with Mektic and Pavic breaking serve after three consecutive return winners. Ram and Salisbury made life a little uncomfortable for Pavic, when he served for the set at 5-4, but the 27-year-old held his nerve on a Deciding Deuce point. Mektic and Pavic won 90 per cent of their first-service points in the 33-minute opener.

When Pavic hit a routine forehand volley wide at 15/15 on Ram’s serve at 2-2 in the second set, the momentum started to shift. Ram and Salisbury returned better and later Pavic did well to recover from 0/30 at 5-6. The Croatians hit their first serves in a strong start to the tie-break and while Ram and Salisbury won four straight points from an 0/6 deficit, Mektic closed out with an ace.

Ram and Salisbury, who lost to Mektic and Pavic 6-3, 7-6(5) in the Miami semi-finals last month, are now 17-8 in their third season as a team. They had been attempting to capture their fourth crown (2019 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, 2019 Erste Bank Open in Vienna, 2020 Australian Open).

Last week, Mektic and Pavic were beaten in the Mutua Madrid Open final by Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos.