11:03 PM GMT November 18, 2017
The hottest rivalry of the year on the ATP World Tour doubles circuit will have a fitting conclusion on Sunday at The O2 in London. Kubot and Melo secured the year-end No. 1 position in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings, but Kontinen and Peers enter as the defending champions at the season finale. Both teams will be keen to cap their campaigns with a trophy, as the curtain falls on 2017.
While the top-seeded Polish-Brazilian duo celebrated a more successful season overall, they struggled to find any consistent gains against their Finnish-Aussie counterparts. Kontinen and Peers own a 3-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head advantage, notching victories at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Rome, as well as in the Citi Open and Shanghai Rolex Masters finals.
"Here we are again and hopefully we get to repeat," said Kontinen. "We played them in a couple finals this year and the Wimbledon semis. It went both ways, so it's going to be a tough battle. They are well-deserved No. 1s this year."
"Definitely looking forward to coming out there and playing them tomorrow," Peers added. "It's going to come down to a few points here and there. Hopefully it will go our way."
FedEx ATP Head2Head (all meetings in 2017)
But while the Finn and the Aussie scored more wins in their budding rivalry, Kubot and Melo captured arguably the match of the year. With a spot in the Wimbledon championship on the line, they would survive a five-set semi-final thriller 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-2, 4-6, 9-7 in three hours and 32 minutes.
Despite both dropping a match in the group stage this week, the teams found their top form in Saturday's semi-finals. Melo and Kubot routed eighth seeds Ryan Harrison and Michael Venus 6-1, 6-4 and Kontinen and Peers downed fourth seeds Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares 7-6(2), 6-2.
The Brazilian-Polish tandem are seeking a milestone win on Sunday, vying for their 50th match victory of the year. It will be their 10th title match in total, having lifted trophies on six occasions: the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 stops in Miami, Madrid and Paris, in addition to the grass-court events in 's-Hertogenbosch, Halle and Wimbledon. Melo will be making his second appearance in the final at the season finale, having finished runner-up alongside Ivan Dodig in 2014. He is looking to become the first Brazilian to win the Nitto ATP Finals title, while Kubot is hoping to do the same for Poland.
Reigning champions Kontinen and Peers, meanwhile, carry a 41-17 win-loss mark into the final and will be bolstered by a 4-0 record in title matches. They emerged victorious at the Australian Open to open the year, followed by the ATP World Tour 500 events in Washington and Beijing and the Shanghai Rolex Masters.