ATP Rome: Herbert/Mahut survive tough test to advance

In their first match at the Foro Italica, the French pair of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut advanced in three sets.

ATP Rome: Herbert/Mahut survive tough test to advance
Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in action at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters (Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Herbert/Mahut
2 1
Baker/Monroe

French pairing Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut defeated Brian Baker and Nicholas Monroe 6-2, 6-7(7), 12-10. at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia. They will now play Rohan Bopanna and Pablo Cuevas in the quarterfinals. 

Herbert/Mahut run away with opening set

The French pair began the match by bringing up double break points in the opening game. A forehand return winner from Herbert gave the fourth seeds the break as they then went on to consolidate for 2-0 to get off to a great start. Nicholas Monroe then held his serve with he and Baker getting on the scoreboard in the set.

The French pair continued to dominate and dictate the game and a love-40 hold by Mahut gave them a 3-1 lead. The French started the next game by taking a love-30 lead before being pegged back to 30-all following great defensive skills at the net.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut reach for the same ball (Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut reach for the same ball (Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

An exchange in the next point between Baker and Mahut was intercepted by Herbert who put away a volley to bring up double break points. Brian Baker then went to the body of Herbert who netted as the game was sent to the first deciding point of the entire match.

After a mini exchange, Herbert found an opening next to Baker and placed a forehand winner down the line to win the point and break for 4-1. The French pair consolidated serve for a second time to go a double break ahead at 5-1. The Americans would only go on to hold serve one more time with the French going on to win the set in the next game, 6-2. 

Baker/Monroe save two match points en route to leveling the match

Having gained momentum from winning the opening set, the fourth seeds started the same way as the first. The French came from love-40 behind to gain a break point chance at 30-40 following a double fault from the 32-year-old American. They would do well to send the game to a deciding point but would ultimately go down a break on an unforced error from Baker.

A confident hold of serve made it 2-0 to the French pair, who at this point looked in control of the match. The next two games then went with serve as the scores moved to 3-1 with the French duo still ahead. All square at 30-all in the fifth game, Mahut fired a forehand towards Baker, who netted as two break points arrived. After missing the first serve, Baker went out wide on his second with the 35-year-old hitting an unforced error as the game headed to a deciding point.

A timely ace saved a second break point and kept the Americans just a game behind. Having stayed infront the whole set, the fourth-seeded French duo then was left serving for the match at 5-4. However, the Americans had other ideas and from the off, began attacking which earned them three break point opportunities with Herbert overplaying a simple volley.

They had one saved but converted their second, breaking at 5-5 then going ahead at 5-6 for the first time with momentum swinging. The French also held their serve to send the set to a tiebreaker. The fourth seeds grabbed match point at 6-5 but the Americans excellently denied the French and again 7-6 before grabbing a set point of their own at 7-8 and converting, 6-7(7).

French pair come through match tiebreaker

The first five points of the tiebreaker went with the serve and the French pair were ahead 3-2. The next five games then went against serve with the French pressing home their advantage to lead 6-4. The Americans stayed in touch with the fourth seeds and broke back at 7-6 before going on to level the match breaker at 7-7.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert strikes a volley with partner Nicolas Mahut looking on (Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Pierre-Hugues Herbert strikes a volley with partner Nicolas Mahut looking on (Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

For the remainder of the breaker, both teams for the first time in the match looked equal and were serving particularly well as scores were locked at 10-10. The French won the next point to bring up a third match point of the match at 11-10 thanks to Mahut's excellent defensive skills at the net. In the next point, the French eventually put the game to bed as Monroe skied a volley.