04:21 PM GMT November 19, 2017
They may not be finishing the season with the year-end No. 1 Emirates ATP Doubles Team Ranking, but Henri Kontinen and John Peers aren’t leaving the Nitto ATP Finals without hardware.
After producing a serving masterclass, Kontinen and Peers defeated top-seeded Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, 6-4, 6-2, in 70 minutes to retain their title at the season finale.
A year after capturing the trophy in London in their team debut, Kontinen and Peers won four straight matches after dropping their round-robin opener against eighth-seeded Ryan Harrison and Michael Venus to clinch the triumph at The O2 without losing a set in the semi-finals or final. They are the first pair to win back-to-back titles at the season finale since Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan in 2003 and 2004.
"I thought every match we played here, we've played better and better as the week has gone on," Peers said. "It's nice to come back and defend our title. It feels good to go on holidays after a win."
It is the fifth title of the season for the Finnish-Australian duo, who have won all five finals they contested. That includes their first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.
Kubot and Melo are not finishing their year on a down note, as their first win in Group Eltingh/Haarhuis clinched for them the year-end No. 1 Emirates ATP Doubles Team Ranking, despite a 4-5 record to begin the season.
But it was clear from the opening game that this match would go the way of Kontinen and Peers, who now lead the FedExATP Head2Head rivalry 4-1. While the second seeds held at love in their first two service games, the Polish-Brazilian duo struggled, facing a break point in the first game of the match. And once Kontinen and Peers broke at 2-2, they were clearly in control. The team broke in the opening game of the second set and pulled away from there, Peers putting away a backhand volley for a winner to clinch the victory.
"Maybe we fire up a bit more playing them. I think they're a really tough team," Kontinen said of Kubot and Melo. "We always know playing this team, pretty much all the teams in this tournament, we're going to have to play our best to win. Luckily we were able to do that today."
In the match, Kontinen and Peers lost just three points on their first serve and saved all three break points they faced.
Kontinen and Peers earned 1,300 points for their efforts this week, and will share $450,000 in prize money. Kubot and Melo captured 800 points and will split $262,000 in prize money.