Novak Djokovic and Fabio Fognini may have suffered early exits from the singles draw at the BNP Paribas Open, but they thrilled crowds in Indian Wells by playing entertaining tennis to advance to the doubles semi-finals. Sixths seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo battled hard to bring their run to an end, though, defeating Djokovic and Fognini 7-6(5), 2-6, 10-6 on Friday to reach the first ATP Masters 1000 championship match of the year.
“I think the fact we played together for a long time, this makes a difference. We know against these guys we had to play to win,” Melo said. “I think we were aggressive, how we should be, in important moments. We do what we have to do and most of the time for us, it pays off. I’m very happy with this, so let’s go forward for tomorrow to the finals. We’re really looking forward to this one.”
Kubot/Melo and Djokovic/Fognini won the same number of points (71) in the match, but the Polish-Brazilian duo was a step ahead in the key moments, triumphing after one hour and 40 minutes. They will face Nikola Mektic and Horacio Zeballos on Saturday for the Masters 1000 trophy.
“Now we face two doubles players. They know how we play, we know how they play, so it’s going to be a very strategic match. Like today we have to go and try our best, focus, because if not they’re going to win,” Melo said. “They’re such great players. We have been playing very good, so I hope we keep this level and hold the trophy.”
Kubot and Melo have played together full-time since 2017, whereas this is only Mektic and Zeballos’ second tournament together. Kubot and Melo are giving the Croat-Argentine duo its due, though, and they know they’ll need to be at their best to earn their fifth Masters 1000 crown as a tandem.
“They have a lot of wins together this year already and are also full of confidence, so we’re looking forward for another [tough] match,” Kubot said. “But we want to enjoy the match we just finished.”