Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut made a winning return to the Nitto ATP Finals with a win over Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah. The French duo improved to 11-8 at the year-end championships with a 7-6(1), 6-4 win in Turin.
There were early signs of Farah struggling physically, requiring treatment on his leg and back during the first few games of the match. The Colombians saved three set points at 4-5 and 5-6 but found themselves consistently on the back foot as Herbert and Mahut raced through the tie-break, permitting their opponents only a single point.
Herbert and Mahut had recorded stellar numbers on serve in the first set, winning 86 per cent of points behind their first serve and 82 per cent behind their second. After securing an early break in the second, the French duo went on to win 15 straight points on serve to lead 4-3. Two double faults from Herbert instigated a late exchange of breaks and Mahut served out the match to love.
The 91-minute victory for Herbert and Mahut means that they will face Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, who beat Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares 6-1, 7-6(5) in the day session, in a Wednesday clash to determine who will go top of the Red Group in Turin.
Herbert and Mahut became the first French pairing since 2005 to win the season finale when they claimed the title in 2019 without dropping a set, but did not defend their title in 2020.
Cabal and Farah also have an excellent record at the Nitto ATP Finals, having reached back-to-back semi-finals on their first two appearances in 2018-19, but have struggled against the French pairing, trailing 2-6 in the head-to-head coming into the Turin clash. The most recent meeting between the French and Colombian duos came in the semi-finals of the French Open in June when Cabal and Farah fought fiercely but were unable to prevent Herbert and Mahut from going on to repeat their career Grand Slam.