Mike Bryan, Jack Sock
win Nitto ATP Finals doubles title
Arthur Kapetanakis | November 18, 2018
Mike Bryan and Jack Sock capped a historic six-month run by winning the Nitto ATP Finals doubles trophy in London on Sunday, battling into a third-set match tiebreaker before edging Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert, 5-7, 6-1, [13-11], for the title at the year-end tournament. The Americans won the title on their sixth match point, and saved one championship point themselves in a thrilling conclusion to the 2018 ATP doubles season.
Bryan and Sock, whose partnership began back in London at Queens Club in June, after an injury to Bob Bryan, are now the reigning men’s doubles champions at Wimbledon, the US Open and the Nitto ATP Finals – the three biggest events they competed in during their time together.
The newly crowned champions previously fell to the French pair in straight sets in group play on Friday, though Bryan and Sock had already qualified for the semifinals by the time that match was played. ADVERTISEMENT After the first set went to Mahut and Herbert on Sunday, the Frenchmen threatened a repeat performance with the year-end trophy on the line.
But Bryan and Sock raised their game in set two, winning all 14 of their first-serve points in the set and forcing a decider without facing a break point. After failing to capitalize on seven of their eight break-point opportunities in the opening set, the Americans broke serve twice in two second-set chances to force a match tiebreak.
An early Mahut double fault gifted an early advantage in the decider, and strong serving off the racquets of Bryan and Sock, coupled with a pair of Herbert errors on his own serve, quickly extended the lead to 8-3.
Facing four consecutive match points against them at 9-5, the Frenchmen battled back to 9-9, with a pair of mini-breaks sandwiched between two big Herbert serves. On a fifth championship point, at 10-9, a whipped Sock return was handled on the half-volley by Mahut before a Herbert reflex volley again staved off defeat.
Suddenly, it was the Americans staring down a match point, serving at 10-11, but a Bryan overhead quelled the danger.
After an unreturned Bryan serve, the 16-minute tiebreaker ended, 13-11, on a Herbert double fault, with the threat of Sock’s forehand forcing him to overhit.
It is Bryan's fifth ATP Finals doubles title (four with Bob), and the first for Sock, who was making his debut at the year-end doubles event. He was a singles semifinalist in 2017.
According to the ATP, Bryan is now the oldest player to win the year-end finals, while Sock became the first American to reach both the singles semifinals and the doubles final at the year-end championships since John McEnroe won both events in 1984.
This title may prove to be the swansong for the pair that caught lightning in a bottle over the past six months, as Bob Bryan is set to return to the ATP Tour in January. Both men paid tribute to Bob and each other in the post-match trophy ceremony.
“Thanks for joining forces,” Bryan said to Sock. “This could be our last hurrah, because Bob’s training back in Florida, but thanks for doing this for Bob.”
“For me this is special,” added Sock. “Big thanks to Mike for the phone call earlier this year to play.”
“Honestly, all of these moments on court are for Bob... I don’t think there could be anything better, as a tennis fan and a player, than to see [Mike and Bob] playing again.”