It was a nervous evening session for Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo. The doubles pair had won their match earlier in the day against Nenad Zimonjic and Marcin Matkowski to go to 2-1 in Round Robin play. It wasn't until Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau won their match though that Dodig-Melo clinched a spot in the ATP World Tour Finals semifinals.
Dodig-Melo Rally After Dropping Opening Set
Nenad Zimonjic opened the match on serve and was a quick hold at-love to propel his team in front 1-0. Ivan Dodig would grind through a hold of his own as the set evened at 1-1. Matkowski and Melo would each hold their respective service games as the opener quickly moved to 2-2. There was no movement in the set until the eighth game when with Marcelo Melo serving. The game started ominously with a double fault as the teams traded points to 40-40. It was Matkowski who won two straight points for his team with a wicked forehand return of serve and then an equally powerful forehand that handcuffed Dodig for the break. The Polish player would finish off the set for his club with a nifty backhand volley at the net to capitalize on the third set point of the opener.
The second set started with an ace from Ivan Dodig as he powered through at-love for a 1-0 lead for Dodig-Melo. ZImonjic countered with a hold to even the set early at 1-1. After a Melo hold, things would get tricky for Matkowski on serve in the fourth game. A double fault stuck the Pole in an 0-30 hole and a few points later, confusion left the far side of the court open for a Dodig forehand to give Dodig-Melo the break lead at 3-1. At 5-4 though, Zimonjic-Matkowski pounced on a leaky service game. They broke back when a backhand dig by Dodig floated out. To the 12th game where Matkowski served to send it to a tiebreak. Dodig hit a nice forehand volley sliding into the center of the court to score the break and send the match to a decisive super tiebreak.
Matkowski Miscues Give Dodig-Melo Late Chances
The super breaker ebbed back and forth with Zimonjic-Matkowski losing serve a couple times, but the scored being tied after 12 points at 6-6. After the changeover, Melo hit a big first serve out wide to get his team up 7-6. Matkowski went back on serve and shanked a forehand to give Dodig-Melo an 8-6 lead. A double fault followed and then Dodig ended the match on a nearly unreturnable first serve out wide that was not put back into play. Dodig-Melo win 3-6, 7-5, 10-6.
Rojer-Tecau Stay Perfect
The lone doubles team left without a blemish on their record in Round Robin play entering Friday's play were Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau. It was a nice turnaround especially for the Dutchman Rojer who was 0-9 all-time at the Tour Finals before this week. The French pairing of Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert opened on serve with Herbert starting. He started an early run of four straight service holds. The fifth game of the opening set saw the lone break with Herbert serving. That came on a forehand volley smashed down by Rojer to secure a 3-2 lead. Tecau would serve as his team fought off two break points to extend the lead to 4-2. After a few exchanged service holds, Tecau served out the set at 6-4 with the deciding point coming on a solid forehand volley by the Romanian.
The second set would see no separation until the seventh game. Herbert served for the French duo and they fell into an enormous 0-40 hole after a botched forehand dig from Herbert. After his best shot of the set, smashing his own racquet, Herbert dug in to push the score all the way to 40-40, but the break came when he netted a shot to give Rojer-Tecau a 4-3 lead. After swapping service holds, it was Rojer who failed to serve the set and match out at 5-4. Herbert hitting the line on a fine forehand return winner to break to 5-5. Immediately though, Herbert was back under pressure on serve as both Rojer and Tecau continued to assault the Frenchman's serve on return. The decisive break was scored on a Tecau return that Herbert was unable to get back over the net. Tecau would come up with a big first serve that Herbert could not return in play as Rojer-Tecau won 6-4, 7-5.
The win for Rojer-Tecau put them on top of the Fleming-McEnroe group at 3-0. Dodig-Melo by verge of their win and the Mahut-Herbert loss placed second in the group. In the Ashe-Smith group, the tandem of Rohan Bopanna and Florin Mergea finished in first with Bob and Mike Bryan placing second. That sets up Saturday's semifinals with the day sessions to start with Bopanna-Mergea taking on Dodig-Melo. The night session begins with Rojer-Tecau clashing with the Bryans.