Mektic/Zeballos Win Indian Wells In Second Tournament As A Team
Nikola Mektic and Horacio Zeballos arrived at the first ATP Masters 1000 tournament of the year having played just one prior tournament as a team. But on Saturday evening, the Croat-Argentine duo defeated sixth seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 4-6, 6-4, 10-3 to win the BNP Paribas Open.
“Oh my God, we won Indian Wells!” Mektic said when given the microphone during the trophy ceremony.
In the second round, it appeared that Mektic and Zeballos might be ousted early, facing two match points in a Match Tie-break against top seeds and Australian Open champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut. But the unseeded pair survived and never looked back, defeating fifth seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah in the quarter-finals and the 2018 year-end No. 1 ATP Doubles Team, Oliver Marach/Mate Pavic, in the semi-finals.
“[It’s] a little bit unreal. We’re still looking at each other and just repeating, ‘Did we just win’?” Mektic said.
“[It’s] unbelievable,” Zeballos said. “And being in the big [press] conference [room], it’s great. I’ve never been in this room. I love it.”
Twenty of the 32 singles seeds played doubles in Indian Wells, but none reached the final. Instead, Mektic and Zeballos won an impressive 40 per cent of their return points against Kubot and Melo to triumph after one hour and 28 minutes.
Perhaps the key moment came on set point in the second set for Mektic and Zeballos. It was deuce, which on the ATP Tour is deciding point in doubles. Melo, who was dominant at net for much of the match, hit a volley into the net from just inches away, evening the match at a set apiece. Mektic and Zeballos were perfect on serve in the Match Tie-break to clinch the victory. They add 1,000 ATP Doubles Ranking points to their total, and split $457,290 in prize money.
Mektic and Zeballos have not discussed the future of their partnership yet — they combined after their full-time partners got hurt. But it’s safe to say that Mektic’s second Masters 1000 title and Zeballos’ first showed the world what they’re capable of as a pair.
“We are a great team. We can beat anyone,” Mektic said. “Especially on this tournament where [the difference in] every match is a few balls, a few points will decide who’s going to win. Of course you’re not expecting to win, but we were going into every match confident that we can win, so we just went step by step and it happened.”
Kubot and Melo will be disappointed to not lift their fifth Masters 1000 trophy, but they still gain 600 points and a share of $223,170.
“They had the toughest draw possible,” Melo said. “They beat all the best teams in the world.”
Did You Know?
Before Mektic (Croatia) and Zeballos (Argentina), no Croatian or Argentine had ever won the BNP Paribas Open doubles title (since 1976).