ATP World Tour Finals: Herbert/Mahut come from a set down to win group opener

Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut came through a tight match to win in three sets against Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau.

ATP World Tour Finals: Herbert/Mahut come from a set down to win group opener
Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut celebrate winning just their second match at the O2 (Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Herbert/Mahut
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Rojer/Tecau

French Duo and sixth seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut came from a set down to defeat the number three seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau 1-6, 7-6(7), 10-8 to kick off their opening match with a win. 

Rojer/Tecau ease to the first set

From 40-15 ahead, Tecau was taken to a deciding point on serve as Herbert fired a forehand to Tecau who couldn't deal with the shot. However, Mahut's backhand return shot wide as the Dutch/Romanian pair got the contest underway. The French pair then held serve to love to restore parity early on, 1-1.

From then on in, Rojer/Tecau began taking control of the match. Unlike Rojer, Tecau held serve easier to 15. Tecau on breakpoint up 15-40 got lucky with the return before placing a forehand between the French to get the first break at 1-3. On the Tecau serve, Herbert and Mahut responded very well, taking a love-30 lead and although they were pegged back, they took the third seeds to a deciding point. 

Horia Tecau strikes a forehand shot with partner Jean-Julien Rojer looking on (Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Horia Tecau strikes a forehand shot with partner Jean-Julien Rojer looking on (Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

But they couldn't find a way through with the Romanian remaining solid on serve for 1-4. All square at 30-all in the fifth game, Rojer showed great hands at the net with a forehand pickup, dragging Herbert wide as Tecau finished off the point with an overhead volley to bring up two more break points for the duo.

A great second serve forced the 32-year-old to place a shot wide with the game going to a deciding point. Rojer then played a lovely return, taking the pace off the ball as Tecau charged forehand and finished the game off with a neat low volley for 1-5. Three set points arrived for the third seeds at 15-40, and despite losing two of them, they were taken to a deciding point before finishing off the set, 1-6. 

Herbert/Mahut fight back; saves match point and sends match to deciding tiebreak

At the start of the second set, the sixth seeds were in danger of falling further behind. From 40-15 ahead, they were taken to a deciding point following an excellent aggressive return from Tecau. A good unreadable serve did the job for him and Mahut. Rojer and Mahut then both eased their way through service games, holding to love with the French ahead early on at 2-1.

Tecau made it a full house as all four players got through their service games with the scores tied at 2-2. For the next couple of games, both teams began to take control on serve, holding with ease as the sixth seeds seemed to have weathered the blistering start from their opponents with the match now level at 4-4.

All four players in action during the night session (Photo: Adrian Dennis/Getty Images)
All four players in action during the night session (Photo: Adrian Dennis/Getty Images)

Although Herbert/Mahut found a way back into the match, the third seeds stepped up their game in the ninth game, going on to grab triple breakpoints with more superb returning from the Romanian. Herbert saved both breakpoints, serving his fifth ace to send the game to a deciding point. The French survived by the skin of their teeth with Rojer failing to take advantage after controlling the rally.

The 36-year-old held his serve to restore parity for 5-5. Both teams then held their next serve to force a decider. Rojer/Tecau earned match point at 5-6 in the breaker. But the French duo stayed alive with brilliant serve and volley tactics. They then earned a set point of their own at 7-6 but was saved. However, a second would arrive at 8-7 and the pair would take their chance to level the match, 7-6(7). 

Herbert/Mahut win a thriller on opening night

With the match at the business end, both teams began to match each other as the opening eight points went with serve for 4-4. Rojer/Tecau who had looked solid for the majority of the game then lost serve only to peg back the French duo a point later with Herbert serving up a double-fault, handing the initiative back, 5-5. Both teams then once again began holding their serves with both teams locked at 8-8 in a tense match tiebreaker.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut high five after winning a point (Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut high five after winning a point (Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The Dutchman then threw in an untimely double fault which handed a first match point to the French at 9-8. Tecau placed a return into the path of the 35-year-old who tucked away the volley to earn the French pair a win, only their second win at the Finals and their first win on opening day. They next face the other winners in this group, Harrison/Venus.