02:26 PM GMT September 15, 2018
It has been a year of firsts for Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah. With a maiden Grand Slam final appearance and a first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy under their belts, the Colombians have every reason to believe 2018 could be the year they finally make their Nitto ATP Finals debut in London.
Cabal and Farah, competing in their eighth season as a partnership, have lifted 11 titles from 26 tour-level finals as a team, but have never qualified for the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals. But, this season, that run appears likely to come to an end. Currently sitting in second place in the ATP Doubles Race to London, Cabal and Farah look set to book their spot at The O2 in London after a stellar season.
The Colombian duo began the year in top form, reaching its first Grand Slam final without dropping a set before falling to Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic. A second final appearance followed in their next event, at the Argentina Open in February, signalling their intent early in the season.
Back-to-back quarter-final exits at Masters 1000 events in Miami and Monte-Carlo soon followed, with a run to the final four in Madrid proving their consistency at the top events before finally making their breakthrough in Rome.
Cabal and Farah captured the biggest title of their careers in the Italian capital, navigating three Match Tie-breaks in four matches. The sixth seeds overcame top seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo in the quarter-finals and Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares in the semi-finals, before edging past surprise finalists Pablo Carreno Busta and Joao Sousa.
"This is the title we have been looking for, for a long time," said Cabal in Rome. "We've been working hard for it. Hard work pays off in the end and we're really happy about it. This keeps us motivated."
"It's an amazing feeling," added Farah in Rome. "We played in a couple of finals this year and weren't able to win the title... We've been working for this and to win [one of] the biggest titles on the ATP World Tour, this is something you remember for the rest of your life."
Cabal and Farah were eliminated in the quarter-finals and the Round of 16 at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, respectively, before recapturing their best form in America. After a narrow opening-match loss at the Rogers Cup, Cabal and Farah reached their second Masters 1000 final of the season at the Western & Southern Open. The seventh seeds did not drop a set en route to the final, which they led by a set, before falling to Murray and Soares in a Match Tie-break.
Cabal and Farah continued to impress at the US Open, reaching the semi-finals for the first time. The long-time partnership were the only team to take a set off eventual champions Mike Bryan and Jack Sock.
Consistency and a series of first-time achievements already this season have opened up a 1,980-point gap for Cabal and Farah over ninth-placed Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in the ATP Doubles Race to London. And, if the Colombians do make it to The 02 in November, they will be keen to end their season with another first-time achievement; a maiden Nitto ATP Finals trophy.