Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic are still in the hunt for a 10th ATP Tour-level title of 2021 after reaching the semi-finals in Turin.
The top-seeded Croatians defeated sixth seeds Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek 6-4, 7-6(6) in their final round-robin match at the Nitto ATP Finals to join fourth seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos in the semi-finals.
The defeat marks the end of the partnership between Australian Open champions Dodig and Polasek, but their Croatian opponents seemingly go from strength to strength. The duo won 56 of their first 61 matches in 2021, including titles at Wimbledon, the Tokyo Olympics and three ATP Masters 1000 events.
After both teams defeated eighth seeds Kevin Krawietz and Horia Tecau earlier in the week, the semi-final spot came down to a straight fight in the final round-robin match of the Green Group. Mektic and Pavic led the ATP Head-to-Head 2-1, but had lost arguably the biggest match of the rivalry when Dodig and Polasek triumphed in the Australian Open semi-finals. Three of the four players had also featured in the gold medal match at the Tokyo Olympics, where Dodig had partnered Marin Cilic to the silver medal.[FOLLOW FINALS]
Mektic and Pavic got off to the brighter start, breaking Dodig and Polasek at their first opportunity in the fifth game. Although Dodig and Polasek fended off four break points at 2-4 to stay in touch and had two break points of their own as the Croatians served for the set, Mektic and Pavic were able to close out the opener in 38 minutes.
Dodig and Polasek broke immediately to lead 2-0 in the second set, but Mektic and Pavic soon broke back. The Croatians raced to a 4-1 lead in the tie-break before being pegged back on serve by some strong returning from Dodig, but ultimately Pavic landed a return winner for a second match point and then converted with a big serve.
This will be Pavic’s first appearance in the semi-finals of the Nitto ATP Finals, while Mektic won the title with Wesley Koolhoff in 2020.
Mektic and Pavic will have to wait to find out who their semi-final opponents will be, with three teams in the Red Group still in contention going into the final day of round-robin matches on Friday.