Murray/Soares Into The SF
With the end of round-robin play at the Nitto ATP Finals approaching, only one spot in the semi-finals at the season finale remained.
For Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, the scenario was simple on Friday evening — win or go home. And despite a spirited comeback by the top seeds, the Scottish-Brazilian pairing booked their spot in the final four with an impressive 6-2, 6-4 victory over Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo.
Not only did they clinch a semi-final berth, but Murray and Soares won Group Woodbridge/Woodforde, relegating Kubot and Melo, who will finish at No. 1 in the year-end Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings, to second in the group.
Kubot and Melo had led the FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Murray and Soares, 3-1, with all four matches coming at the quarter-final stage or later of an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event this year.
But it was the fourth seeds who seized control immediately, winning nine of the match’s first 11 games with an energetic display at net to go with sensational returning that didn’t let their powerful opponents into the match.
While Kubot and Melo had dominated the group with their power in winning their first two matches, Murray and Soares beat them to the punch time and time again. The Brazilian was especially good on return, putting ball after ball at his opponents’ feet. That along with Murray's aggression at the net helped his team earn a set and 3-0 lead.
But the top seeds did not give up hope, winning three straight games to even the second set, before earning three straight break points on Soares’ serve. All of a sudden it was Kubot coming up with the terrific returns and Melo reflexing volleys that had previously sailed by him.
Yet at deuce, Murray halted the momentum with a strong poach and ensuing overhead to push ahead. Then while up 5-4, Soares attacked Melo's second serve at deuce to gain advantage in the point, before forcing a volley error from Kubot to seal the important triumph.
Murray and Soares will now play second-seeded Henri Kontinen and John Peers in the semi-finals, while Kubot and Melo will take on the only undefeated team in round-robin competition, eighth-seeded Ryan Harrison and Michael Venus.