Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski miss out on qualification for Sunday’s ATP Finals

Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski are still looking for a first ATP title since joining forces at the start of last year’s grass-court season

Credit: SHUTTERSTOCK

It was a bittersweet day for Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski, who won their first ATP title together by default after their putative opponents – Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin – pulled out of Saturday’s final.

That was the good news. The bad news was that Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin only withdrew because they had already secured their goal: qualification in seventh position for Sunday’s ATP Finals.

Melzer and Roger-Vasselin won their semi-final in Sofia on Friday to end any doubt about the line-up for the O2 Arena, and then immediately headed back to London to get themselves ready for the showpiece event. They finished the season on 2,180 points, just 40 ahead of Murray and Skupski on 2,140.

The eighth-placed team of Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo also finished on 2,140. But they had played fewer events than Murray and Skupski, which was the next tie-breaker in the small print. How frustrating to know that one more victory at any stage of the season would have carried you over the line.

The only British participant at the ATP Finals will thus be south London’s Joe Salisbury, who qualified in second place with his American partner Rajeev Ram. Murray and Skupski could yet get a look-in as first alternates if someone withdraws through injury.

Meanwhile, Great Britain’s upcoming Billie Jean King Cup tie against Mexico has been switched from an away match to a home match because of organisational delays surrounding the Mexican Tennis Federation’s presidential election. The match – which will send the winners forward to the qualifiers round in 2022 – will be played at an as-yet-unspecified venue on the weekend of Feb 5-6.