Kubot, Melo End Doubles Partnership With One Last Win

WASHINGTON/LONDON, November 20, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

It’s never easy to end a doubles partnership, but Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Marcelo Melo from Brazil knew the time was right.

On Thursday, following their 6-4, 6-7 (2), 10-8 victory over No. 5 seeds Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands and Nikola Mektic from Croatia, secured on the second match point, the 38-year-old Kubot and Melo, 37, finished their 2020 season with a 22-13 win-loss record, including 10-5 in match-tiebreaks, and ended their four-year partnership on a winning note.

The No. 8 seeds, who were 2017 London finalists saved three of four break points en route to their one hour and 44-minute victory. Kubot and Melo finished their fourth straight Nitto ATP Finals appearance with a 1-2 group play win-loss record in Group Mike Bryan.

After the match, both players were emotional. Melo posted on Instagram, “Thanks Kubi! We had many good emotions during our partnership, today was not different. We end our team but we keep friends forever!”

The Polish-Brazilian pair, who came together from Boleslawiec, Poland, and Belo Horizonte, Brazil, compiled a 166-77 win-loss record (.683 winning percentage), much of from 2017 to 2020. This season, they won two ATP 500 titles, in Acapulco and Vienna. Overall, Kubot and Melo won 14 tour-level crowns, including 2017 Wimbledon, and four ATP Masters 1000 titles.

“Here of course is a very special tournament,” said Melo during a post-match interview. “Of course, the [Nitto ATP] Finals, we do everything to be here. [It represents] achievement in life, achievement as a team, and I’m glad I could be here many times. For us to be at a place that has the best eight singles players and best eight doubles players is very special. Today was another one. It was very special. Unfortunately, we did not qualify [for the semifinals], but we finished with a win.”

Kubot said he knew this would be the last tournament together for him and Melo. “We were not sure to qualify [for the Nitto ATP Finals], so we did everything to qualify,” he said. “This tournament didn’t go the way we wanted to, but every day we stepped on the court we gave 100 percent and today was a day we just wanted to finish and play until the end, finish with a win for our Kubot-Melo team. We are happy and pleased that this is here in London, because we have one of the best memories here from winning Wimbledon.”

Djokovic wasn’t feeling well against Medvedev

For 15 or 20 minutes of his 81-minute loss to Daniil Medvedev at the Nitto ATP Finals in London Wednesday night, World No. 1 and top seed Novak Djokovic admitted after losing that he wasn’t feeling well.

“Well, I was, to be honest [not feeling well] a little bit, especially towards the end of the first set, beginning of the second,” Djokovic said during his virtual press conference that followed his 6-3, 6-3 loss. “I kind of regroups and felt better … towards the end of the match. But, yeah, just unfortunate 15, 20 minutes for me that resulted with seven games in a row lost. … I made some unforced errors. I dropped the level of [my] game and fitness just in general. I struggled to … find the right rhythm for 15 minutes or so. … You know, against a player like Medvedev, the match is done.”

Djokovic did give props to Medvedev, as he should. He said: “I cannot allow these things to happen when you’re playing one of the top players in the world. He was just better, no question about it. … He’s serving tremendously well, moving great. [He didn’t] give me too many unforced errors and free points. Yeah, I mean, just not a great match from my side. I thought I could have and should have done better, but credit to him for playing on a high level.”

When Djokovic was feeling well, he said Medvedev’s first serve and his overall court savvy proved to be troublesome.

“He’s a tall guy and he moves well, he rarely misses backhands, and he’s just a smart player, very smart player,” Djokovic said. “[He] knows how to make you run, make you play, and he always asks additional shots from the back of the court … from his opponent. If you start making unforced errors and maybe if you’re not playing at your best, he uses it. You know, he was a better player. [He] deserved to win, no doubt about it.”

Tsitsipas reflects on lonely nature of the tour

During his final virtual press conference in London, shortly after falling to Rafael Nadal in three sets Thursday night, World No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas took time to reflect on his just-completed season. He commented on the “lonely” nature of the life on the ATP Tour amid the global coronavirus pandemic – and on how 2020 for him had been “unfulfilling.”

When Tsitsipas was asked what the most difficult thing to cope with this season was, he said: “The bubble life itself. Why? I mean, it gets tiring after a while. Think of yourself sitting in a hotel room waiting for your match all day long, not having the ability to go anywhere. 

“Of course, they try to entertain you with some things they put in the players’ lobby or players’ lounge. But people need space. It’s difficult to be in your hotel, room service all day long. Not having the opportunity to see your friends because of all these differences or you know, I have lots of people that I connect with when I play tournaments. 

“It feels very – to me, it feels very dark, and honestly, I’m not a person who sees the dark side of things. But this whole thing was very diffuse to handle, to be honest with you.

“I’m very happy that I didn’t break down, and I’m sure if you ask other players they are going to respond the same way.

“Technology obviously helps us connect easier than ever. We all know that. I think I’m grateful for that, that I’m able to be with the people that I love every single day by giving them a call or FaceTiming them. 

“Nonetheless, it was what it was, and I think it’s still going to be a thing for a while. It’s a different world, I would say. I will describe it as a different world and we are very lonely. …

“For me, 2020 is going to be a very, I would say, unfulfilling year simply because of the situation that we had to face. 

“I will kind of see it as a huge gap in which we had to wait to come back and we were given the opportunity to play from September and on.

“So, I don’t know. You know, only now I do realize that crowd creates more adrenaline when I’m out on the court and gives me, I think to every single player, just gives bigger purpose. It’s just so elevating when you have people watching. 

“I tried my best; I tried my best. I never have timed a match because of reasons like this. I’m playing for myself, after all. 

“2020, you know, I had some good results Some bad losses. Some new things that happened to me that I didn’t face in the past. Some really annoying things and some beautiful things, as well. Things that brought me a lot of joy. Also, allowed for me to, despite the pandemic, to connect with certain people and have some fun, as well, you know. 

“Yeah, there were a few positives I can take from that. I will try and forget the negatives, because who needs negativity in the world? Just looking at the bright side of it. Trying to get to the end of the tunnel and see something better in the near future.”