Henri Kontinen and John Peers battled through 11 match points to finish off a resilient Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau 7-6(3), 7-6(6) to win their first match at this year's Nitto ATP World Tour Finals.
Both gain a break each; Kontinen/Peers win on tiebreaker
It didn't take long for the match to catch fire. In only the second game and ahead 15-30, Peers struggled on serve and threw in a double fault to go behind three breakpoints. The US Open champions could not convert either of the three as the Australian scraped through his opening service to draw level at 1-1.
Rojer/Tecau in the fourth game had a love-30 lead on the Kontinen serve but he and Peers remained calm and won the next four points to stay in the set and draw level, 2-2. Continuing their calmness, the pair earned their first breakpoints of the match with the Finn's return landing in.
They saved one but Tecau gifted them the break by serving up a double fault on deciding point. Peers did manage to hold serve and consolidate the break for a 4-2 lead. Rojer remained in the match, holding serve to love impressively in the next game. He and Tecau then sent the game to a deciding point but the second seeds denied their opponents to go 5-3 ahead with their break intact.
Another love hold from the US Open champions then gave the Aussie/Finn the chance to serve it out up 5-4. However, the third seeds got a lifeline at 30-40 and when Kontinen crossed, Tecau struck a forehand winner down the line to break back, 5-5 following two saved break points. The second seeds then played the perfect tiebreak, going on to win 7-3 to take the set.
Kontinen/Peers battle to win after having 11 match points saved
Now full of confidence, Kontinen/Peers raised their levels at the beginning of the second set in the fourth game on the Tecau serve. Taking their opponents to a deciding point, the Aussie/Finn battled to break with the Romanian sending a high backhand volley long of the line. They consolidated to keep in control of the match at 4-1.
But now serving for the match at 5-4, Peers seemed to have remained calm by taking the game to love-40 and earning four match points. But the 32-year-old raised his game and the third seeds saved all three break points before going on to break with a stunning crosscourt return. Three more match points would be handed to the second seeds in the very next game.
But once again, Rojer/Tecau raised their levels and denied Kontinen/Peers on all three occasions to save their sixth match point en route to holding to draw level in the set at 5-5. For the first time in three games, a hold of serve would occur for Kontinen/Peers to pile more pressure on the third seeds.
An eighth chance of finishing off the match came for Kontinen/Peers but they would be denied again on deciding point.In the tiebreaker, Rojer/Tecau would go on to save three more match points from 6-3. But finally, the second seeds converted at the 12th time of asking thanks to Peers' forehand winner into space. This was their sixth win in seven matches at the Finals.