Fifth seeds Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic continued their successful team debut at the Nitto ATP Finals as they accelerated past Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury to claim the first spot into the semi-finals.
The pair combined to create 10 break chances in a returning masterclass that kept the pressure on Ram and Salisbury. Koolhof and Mektic successfully navigated a tough opening set before soaring ahead to win 7-6(5), 6-0 in an hour and 21 minutes.
“I mean, no one expected it to be 6-0 [in the second set],” Mektic said in the on-court interview. “We played really well in the first set, so the only thing we wanted to do was keep the level. We were really pushing ourselves to do that. We had a good start in the second, and somehow [this score] happened.
“The first set was really close and then the second set… it’s not really realistic, but we’ll take it.”
While Mektic previously competed at the 2018 edition of the Nitto ATP Finals, it’s Koolhof’s tournament debut as he is bidding to become the fourth Dutchman to win the doubles title. The victory sent both players into the semi-finals of the season-finale for the first time, after opening their campaign with a 6-7(3), 7-6(4), 10-7 victory over third seeds Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies. And there’s even more to play for as they are one of the teams vying to end the year at the top of the FedEx ATP Doubles Team Rankings.
“[The nerves] feel good so far, I would say,” Koolhof said. “For me, it’s my debut year and so far things have been going great. The first match was a very close one. It’s a good thing we played two tie-breaks in that one, so we were confident going into the tie-break in this first set.
“Of course, the race is still open for that No. 1 doubles spot. Let’s hope we’ll be on top at the end of the weekend.”
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With Koolhof and Mektic safely into the semi-finals, the advancement scenarios in Group Mike Bryan are now crystal clear: Ram and Salisbury will face Krawietz and Mies with the winner moving on to the final four. Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo cannot advance after amassing a 0-2 record.