Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut finished second in the Red Group at the Nitto ATP Finals after defeating Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares 6-3, 7-6(5) on Friday.
Herbert and Mahut did not drop a set at the Nitto ATP Finals in 2019 on their way to becoming the first French champions since 2005, but their route in Turin has not been so straightforward.
They opened their campaign by beating Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 7-6(1), 6-4, but were defeated 11-13 in the Match Tie-break by Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, who went on to finish top of the Red Group and set the semi-final lineup with their own win over Cabal and Farah.
Murray and Soares have made the last four at the Nitto ATP Finals three times as a team, but were mathematically out of contention to do so in 2021 before Friday’s match began after defeats at the hands of Cabal and Farah and Ram and Salisbury. There was still plenty to play for as they faced Herbert and Mahut for the first time since 2017, with their ATP Head2Head series locked at 2-2.
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Unfortunately for the British-Brazilian tandem, Herbert and Mahut proved too strong and polished a partnership at the Pala Alpitour on Friday. The French pairing converted both break points they earned in the first set to lead 6-3 after 30 minutes, with Murray and Soares having won only 33 per cent of points behind their second serve compared to Herbert and Mahut’s 67 per cent.
Murray and Soares defended their serve better in the second set, and had their biggest chance of the match on Mahut’s serve at 5-5. The veteran had received treatment for a back issue during the previous changeover, and he and Herbert were swiftly down 0/40. But the Frenchmen, playing their sixth Nitto ATP Finals in seven years, bounced back, held serve and largely dominated the tie-break, taking a 4/1 lead that proved unassailable.
Mahut and Herbert will face fourth seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos in Saturday’s semi-final as the French team continue to pursue their second Nitto ATP Finals title.
© Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour