Kontinen/Peers Stand Tall In Washington
The Emirates ATP Doubles Race To London kicked into high gear on Sunday in Washington, as the top two teams in 2017 clashed for the Citi Open crown.
After a one-hour and 33-minute battle, it was top seeds Henri Kontinen and John Peers taking the title 7-6(5), 6-4 over No. 2 pairing Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo. The Finnish-Aussie duo came up clutch in the big moments, firing 11 aces and saving both break points faced.
"Every tournament we play, we feel more comfortable out there playing with each other," said Kontinen. "We're one of the contenders in every tournament. There are a lot of good teams out there. Kubot and Melo are exceptional too. We just have to play well in the key moments."
It was the second title of the season for reigning Nitto ATP Finals champions Kontinen and Peers, who kicked off their 2017 campaigns with victory at the Australian Open. They have now won seven titles together, since joining forces at the start of last year.
Kontinen and Peers avenged a five-set loss to Kubot and Melo last month in the Wimbledon semi-finals, having fallen 9-7 in the decider. In addition, they drew closer to the Polish-Brazilian tandem atop the Emirates ATP Doubles Race To London standings, as the two teams continue to pull away from the rest of the pack. Kubot and Melo add 300 points to reach a total of 6,460, with second-placed Kontinen and Peers tacking on 500 points for a total of 4,570.
"We actually only decided to play here on the Wednesday before the tournament, so thanks to Henri for suggesting it." said Peers. "It's always great to play in front of such a nice crowd."
The margins were razor thin on a hot Sunday at Rock Creek Park in the U.S. capital city. Neither team could manage a break in the first set and a tie-break would decide the opener. Kontinen and Peers would snatch the lone mini-break at 3/2, as a missed volley by Melo would prove critical. The top seeds took a one-set lead after 50 minutes and carried the momentum into the second, capturing the decisive break in the ninth game.
Kontinen rifled a scorching backhand return winner at 4-4 15/15 and Peers followed suit with a forehand winner one point later. A Kubot double fault gave them the lone break of the match and they would seal the title on their second championship point.
Individually, it was the 15th tour-level title for Kontinen, who improved to a staggering 15-4 in finals. Peers tasted victory for the 13th time. It marked the second straight year they have won an ATP World Tour 500 crown together, having prevailed in Hamburg in 2016. They split $107,020 in prize money.
Kubot and Melo, meanwhile, were bidding for their eighth team title and sixth this year. The Wimbledon champions were contesting their seventh final in 2017, having also emerged victorious in Halle, 's-Hertogenbosch, Madrid and Miami and earning a runner-up finish in Indian Wells. They split $52,400 in prize money.