Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo rallied from down a set and a break to take their ATP World Tour Finals opener in a 10-7 super breaker against Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert. They are tied atop the Fleming-McEnroe group at 1-0 with the team of Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau.
French Ride Hot Serving To Take The Opening Set
Serving was the name of the game for much of the opening set between these two teams. Through six games, there was nothing to separate the two as both teams held serve three times. In the seventh game with Marcelo Melo serving, Mahut-Herbert made some headway as they got a look at double break point. That came after a big backhand from Herbert forced Dodig to dump a forehand into the net. They would score the first break of the match on a big smash from Mahut at the net. The lead grew to 5-3 for the French duo after another service hold from Mahut. In the ninth game, Dodig served to keep his team alive in the set. He struggled to get his serve in play and ultimately double faulted to hand Mahut-Herbert the first set at 6-3.
The French pairing were stout on serve in the opener, winning 11 of 13 first serve points and 16 of 22 service points in all. Dodig-Melo lost some key points on second serve where Mahut-Herbert took seven of ten points. Mahut-Herbert did not face a break point in the opener, while Dodig-Melo saved just one of their three break points.
Double Faults Plague Herbert In Second Set
The second set opened with Herbert serving for the French side as he scored an easy hold to open the set. Dodig matched that in the second game to move the score to 1-1. With Mahut serving in the third game, Herbert supplemented his partner's good serving with a nice forehand volley as they rolled to a 2-1 lead. An exchange of holds would send the score to 3-2 with Dodig to serve. Dodig again struggled to find his consistency as the French pair saw their first chance at a break in the set. A superb backhand return from Herbert gave them the break and a 4-2 lead.
Mahut cruised through a hold for his side and Melo served big to keep himself and Dodig in the set at 3-5. Serving for the match, Herbert started the ninth game with a huge serve. He would hit another massive serve to get his team a first match point. A double fault quickly erased that and then inexplicable a second consecutive double fault handed the break to Dodig-Melo. With new life, Dodig served well as a Mahut forehand went out to get the set back on level terms at 5-5. Mahut would steady the ship for the French with a big service hold topped off by an ace. Melo matched and the set went to a tie break.
Herbert opened on-serve in the tie break and it was 1-0 after Melo sent his forehand return well wide. The French won the second point controversially as it appeared that Herbert hit a backhand volley into the ground that then stayed in play to allow Melo to send a volley out. Dodig would send a forehand into the next after a ground exchange with Herbert as the French jumped out 3-0. With Mahut serving, Dodig-Melo would win one point, but the French would lead 4-1. Melo would flash a big serve and excellent net play in the next two points as he held and drew within 4-3 of Mahut-Herbert. A vicious backhand return from Dodig evened the tie break off the Herbert serve and then Melo matched his partner with a wicked backhand return to give them a 5-4 lead. Dodig would end the breaker with big serving to even the match at a set each and send it to a decisive super breaker.
Super Breaker Sees Dodig-Melo Bounce Back Again
The super breaker started with Dodig serving and he helped win the point with some excellent volleys at the net. The French would go on serve for the next two points with Herbert in charge. Dodig would continue to play incredibly as he hit a lovely two-handed backhand that landed in to give Dodig-Melo the mini-break at 2-0. Herbert would hit a forehand volley out of the reach of Melo to end a streak of eight straight points won by Dodig-Melo to bring the French within 2-1. With Melo serving, Dodig again aided his partner with a solid volley for a point and then a Mahut forehand that went long sent the score to 4-1 in favor of Dodig-Melo. Mahut would serve for the French duo as Melo would give his team the second point on a great forehand return as they led 5-2 with Dodig to serve. Herbert would hit a lovely forehand lob that landed in the back corner to give the French the first point, but a Melo smash quickly gave his team the other for a 6-3 margin.
Herbert would nail his two serves with the second return put away with a big forehand volley at the net from Mahut as the French stayed within a point at 6-5. Melo held twice with an ace highlighting the second point to move out to 8-5. Mahut matched holds to 8-7 to hand the serving duties back to Dodig. Herbert mishit a second serve return to give Dodig-Melo match point. Melo, the top ranked doubles player in the world, would end the match with a forehand smash at the net to complete a remarkable comeback 3-6, 7-6 (4), 10-7. The win for Dodig-Melo evened the season series with Mahut-Herbert who had defeated the Croatian-Brazilian tandem at the Australian Open in the semifinals.