After 11 months of solid, long, hard work, the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals saw the two best teams of the past few years go head-to-head for the biggest title of the season.
Henri Kontinen and John Peers who won the title last year defended their title against the top seeds and year-end number ones Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 6-4, 6-2. They then became the first team since the Bryans to retain the crown.
Impressive Kontinen/Peers grab crucial first set
Already, a pattern emerged in the match. Both Kontinen and Peers held their opening two service games to love while Kubot and Melo struggled in theirs, facing a breakpoint on deciding deuce point in the first game coming away unscathed to draw level at 2-2. Clearly in control early on, the second seeds continued to pressurize the Pole/Brazilian, bringing up a second break point on deciding point.
The Australian chose to receive and though the return wasn't the cleanest, Melo failed to capitalize and hit the net to fall behind 3-2. Peers dropped his first game on serve but he and Kontinen did consolidate quite comfortably to gain a 4-2 lead.
The pair of Kontinen/Peers then pulled away from the top seeds and continued to cause them all sorts of problems, the biggest coming in the ninth game while ahead 5-4. Level at 30-all, the 29-year-old took charge of the net with great movement before finishing off the point to grab double set points.
A solid unreturnable serve from the Brazilian followed by a serve and volley tactic gave he and Kubot the game, forcing the Australian Open champions to serve for the set. A third set point arrived at 40-15 with excellent, sharp instincts from the Finn. One was saved but the defending champions put away the next point to take the set 6-4.
Second seeds pull away from the top seeds to claim their second consecutive title
The team continued off from the first set and immediately grabbed a breakpoint in the opening game. A double fault, unfortunately, handed the game to the second seeds who then consolidated to love before pulling away from Kubot and Melo, 2-0. The Finn/Aussie duo had chances to make it 2-1 but the Pole/Brazilian saved two break points to win their first game in three dating back to the end of the first set.
For the first time in the match, Kontinen and Peers found themselves facing a breakpoint on deciding deuce point in the fourth game. But the breakpoint was quickly snuffed out as they made it 3-1. The top seeds found themselves in more trouble and facing three break points to go down a double break.
Two volleys at the net sent the game to a deciding deuce point. However, still facing a breakpoint and under extreme pressure, Kontinen and Peers bagged the double break thanks to Kontinen's ice cool backhand down the line, 4-1. Another comfortable hold of serve gave the pair a 5-1 lead. Kubot and Melo won just their second game to force the second seeds to serve for the title.
The top seeds earned a rare breakpoint and attempted to force a comeback by bringing up a breakpoint. Kontinen's brilliant pickup made it difficult for Kubot who netted as they missed a golden opportunity. A point later, the second seeds would grab match point before ending the contest to win their second straight World Tour Finals title.