Third seeds Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic reached the first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final of their careers on Saturday night when they defeated Rohan Bopanna and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6(4), 4-6 10-7 in one hour and 35 minutes at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters..
Marach and Pavic have a 4-3 record in tour-level finals, including a 3-1 record this year, which started with a 17-match unbeaten run and three straight trophies at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open (d. J. Murray/Soares), the ASB Classic (d. Mirnyi/Oswald) and at the Australian Open, their first Grand Slam championship (d. Cabal/Farah). The duo also finished as runners up in the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament final (l. to Herbert/Mahut).
Marach and Pavic took a 5-3 lead, courtesy of a service break in the fifth game, but later failed to convert a set point opportunity — which was also a break point for Bopanna and Roger-Vasselin — at 5-4. While Bopanna and Roger-Vasselin won the first two points of the tie-break, a clever forehand return winner down the line past Roger-Vasselin at 4/4 handed the Austrian-Croatian team the advantage. Marach finished the 48-minute set with two consecutive smash winners.
Bopanna and Roger-Vasselin consolidated a break of Pavic’s serve on a deciding deuce point in the second set and soon earned a double-break cushion for a 4-1 lead. Although Bopanna lost his serve in the sixth game, the Indian-French tandem held on for a Match tie-break.
Bopanna and Roger-Vasselin took a 3/0 lead, then found themselves 7/5 up before Marach and Pavic won five straight points and completed the match when Bopanna hit a forehand long.
They will face Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, who were forced into a Match tie-break themselves, for the third straight match in Monte-Carlo. The Americans moved within one victory of a record sixth title in the principality. The twins came from a set down to keep their record unblemished against Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini with a 4-6, 6-3, 10-7 victory Saturday in 84 minutes on Court Rainier III.
“We love what we do and we really enjoy this tournament,” said Mike Bryan. “By winning we can stay one more day and try to win our sixth trophy here.”
Bryan and Bryan, who recently captured glory at the Miami Open presented by Itaú, are now a triumph away from a 38th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title and their 116th trophy overall. Only one other player, Tomas Smid, won four doubles titles in Monte-Carlo.
The 39-year-olds, who turn 40 in eight days’ time, extended their FedEx ATP Head2Head series lead against Bolelli and Fognini to 5-0, despite losing their first set against the duo (and second overall) since the 2013 Australian Open semi-finals.
In working their way back to 4-5 in the first set from 0-4 down, the brothers carried momentum in the second set, which included one service break of Bolelli’s serve in the fourth game. Although they couldn’t convert three set point chances on Bolelli’s serve when leading 5-2, Mike Bryan closed out in the next game. In a tense Match tie-break, they opened up a 7/4 advantage. The repeat of the 2015 Monte-Carlo title match ended when Fognini missed a backhand volley at 7/8 and then hit a forehand return into the net on match point.
The two teams that will compete in Sunday’s final — Marach/Pavic and Bryan/Bryan — are first and second in the ATP Doubles Race To London, respectively.