06:30 PM GMT November 17, 2018
After falling in straight sets to Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic in their opening match, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut dropped to 2-7 at the Nitto ATP Finals. But, just five days later, the Frenchmen recorded their third straight win at The O2 to book their place in the championship match, beating Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-3, 5-7, 10-5 on Saturday.
The reigning Roland Garros champions hit won 83 per cent of first-serve points and saved five of six break points to overcome Cabal and Farah after one hour and 36 minutes. The result confirms a second meeting in three days for Herbert and Mahut against Mike Bryan and Jack Sock in the championship match. The Frenchmen defeated the Wimbledon and US Open champions 6-2, 6-2 on Friday to top Group Knowles/Nestor.
Herbert and Mahut, who improve to 4-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Cabal and Farah, are the first French team to reach the final at the season-ending event since Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro lifted the trophy in 2005. Llodra and Santoro were one of two pairings to be honoured at the Nitto ATP Finals this year, with a round-robin group named in their honour.
Herbert and Mahut grabbed the only break of the opening set in the fourth game, capitalising on a number of errors from their opponents to earn a 15/40 advantage. Despite Cabal and Farah saving two break points to reach a deuce deciding point, Herbert once again connected on his forehand return, targeting Farah at the net before Mahut went back towards the 31-year-old with a powerful forehand to claim the service break.
After saving a deuce deciding point at 5-5 in the second set, Cabal and Farah pounced in the following game to force a Match Tie-break. Farah stepped up his aggression on multiple occasions, snatching the set on another deuce deciding point with a net interception.
Despite dropping the opening two points, it was Herbert and Mahut who dominated the Match Tie-break. The Frenchmen claimed six straight points from 0/2, with consistent aggression from both men off the ground and at the net to establish control. Two dominant service points from Herbert brought the eighth seeds to within two points of victory, which they sealed on their first match point as Herbert struck an overhead into the open court.
Cabal and Farah end their season with a 39-22 tour-level record, highlighted by their ATP World Tour Masters 1000 triumph at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia (d. Carreno Busta/Sousa) in May. The Colombian duo was bidding to become the first ever South American team to reach the championship match at the Nitto ATP Finals.
Did You Know?
Herbert and Mahut were the first team to defeat year-end No. 1 doubles team Marach and Pavic this season. Marach and Pavic began the year with 17 consecutive wins before falling to the Frenchmen in the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament final in February.