One year ago, Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo were the doubles team to beat on the ATP World Tour. The reigning Wimbledon champions had put together a strong North American hard-court swing and remained at No. 1 in the ATP Doubles Race To London, where they would finish the season, the first time they ended a campaign at the top spot.
But 2018 has presented a new series of challenges as the 36-year-old Kubot and 34-year-old Melo have seen the best every team has had to offer. They have gone 28-18 together this year.
But the Pole/Brazilian pairing remains in the hunt for their second consecutive appearance at the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals, to be held 11-18 November at The O2 in London. Kubot/Melo are in eighth place in the Doubles Race; the top eight teams qualify for the prestigious season finale.
Kubot/Melo started the year perfectly, winning the Sydney International. “It was great. I think we played very good in the final, as we have been playing in the tournament,” Melo said in Sydney.
They then repeated as champions at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle (d. Zverev/Zverev) and sprinted to the US Open doubles final (l. to Bryan/Sock), their first Grand Slam title match since 2017 Wimbledon.
Kubot/Melo, who are in their second full season of playing together, have enjoyed so much success because their games match up well, Kubot said. “Marcelo is so quick at the net… I’m trying to build the game from the back of the court,” Kubot said.
The pairing will have their work cut out for them if they want to finish as the year-end No. 1 doubles team again. But winning streaks are not a problem for Kubot/Melo. At one point last year, during the grass-court season and at the start of the North American hard-court swing, the team had won 17 consecutive matches.