Azarenka, Mirnyi Capture US Open Mixed Title
Published September 06, 2007 12:00
NEW YORK, NY, USA - The championship weekend started early at the US Open on Thursday, as the mixed doubles honors were determined. And thanks to some top-notch serving and a riveting second set comeback, it was the Belarusian combination of Max Mirnyi and Victoria Azarenka that walked away the winners, beating Indian-American combination Leander Paes and Meghann Shaughnessy in a tight two-setter, 64 76(6).
Mirnyi and Azarenka drew first blood midway through the first set, breaking Shaughnessy's serve in the fifth game. Shaughnessy put up a fight from the ad side with Mirnyi serving up 5-4, feathering a lob return winner on their first set point and setting up a Paes overhead with another lob return on their second set point; but the Belarusian's big serve on their third set point set up an easy volley to close out the set.
Paes and Shaughnessy were on their way to returning that favor in the second set, breaking Azarenka in the fifth game and building a 5-2 lead. But that lead would not hold like it did in the first set as the Belarusians came back, breaking the Paes serve in the ninth game and overcoming five set points in the process. They capped the win by rallying back from a 6-2 deficit in the tie-break.
"Obviously we didn't know that things were going to turn out the way they did in the second set tie-break," Mirnyi stated. "I was mainly concerned at the time to just keep composure and continue to apply pressure and to use the game plan that we had for the final set, the 10-point super tie-break."
"Actually I don't believe it yet; I'm just at the point where I don't realize we won a Grand Slam," Azarenka stated. "I know we've won the match, but I'm still not there. I'm kind of in a place right now, I don't know where."
The natural chemistry between Mirnyi and Azarenka dates back to the 1990s, where Azarenka ballboyed at some of his Davis Cup matches. Since then, they have enjoyed a friendship that has now blossomed into a Slam-winning tandem.
"We're from the same hometown," Mirnyi said. "I've known Victoria since she came to play when she was five or six years old. As the years went by Victoria became the best junior, and it didn't take her too long to become one the best professional players now. With the limit of the tournaments she has had the last couple years she's now Top 40. It's incredible progress she's made. I am happy to have played with her throughout this year."
While this is the first Grand Slam title of any kind for Azarenka (aside from an illustrious junior resume), it is the seventh Grand Slam crown for Mirnyi, whose previous titles include four men's doubles crowns and two mixed crowns. His first mixed titles came at Wimbledon and here in 1998 (both with Serena Williams).