This is just the second time Nikola Mektic and Horacio Zeballos are playing together, but you wouldn’t know it from their results. Mektic and Peya defeated the 2018 year-end No. 1 ATP Doubles Team, Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic, 7-6(3), 7-6(3), on Thursday evening to reach the final of the BNP Paribas Open.
“It’s crazy because most of the teams know each other for a long time,” Zeballos said. “We are enjoying it, we are having a really nice time together on the court and I think we are both good players, so that’s why I think it’s working.”
You might expect a team with little experience on the same side of the court to struggle in the biggest moments, but that has not been the case for this Croat-Argentine pair. Mektic and Zeballos won 75 per cent of their service points in the semi-finals and came through two tie-breaks to advance to the first ATP Masters 1000 final of the season. In the previous two rounds, they had to win Match Tie-breaks to advance.
“It’s easy to play with him, it’s easy to play with me. He’s a great guy, we understand each other. We’re fighting,” Mektic said. “These are all close matches, so there’s been some luck involved as well.”
Last year, Mektic and Alexander Peya won the Mutua Madrid Open, which is also a Masters 1000 event. But while they qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals, Peya is currently out due to injury. Nevertheless, Mektic triumphed in Sofia with Jurgen Melzer and would be ecstatic to emerge victorious in Indian Wells.
“It’s indescribable. If we win it, then we’ll know the feeling. I won Madrid, which is my favorite tournament because I won it,” Mektic said. “But I think Indian Wells is the most respected Masters 1000 of all, so it would mean a lot.”
Zeballos has lifted 11 ATP Tour doubles trophies and reached eight additional finals, but this will be his first Masters 1000 final. Emerging victorious against sixth seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo or Novak Djokovic and Fabio Fognini — Friday’s semi-final — would be a career achievement.
“It would be great. This is amazing. This is my first ATP Masters 1000 final so I’m so happy,” Zeballos said. “Let’s see how we can do in the final, but of course every final you need to enjoy because there are only two teams left. It’s a big thing.”