NEW YORK, NY, USA -- The women’s doubles tournament kicked off on Thursday at the 2017 US Open, and the recently-formed pairing of No.4 seeds Sania Mirza and Peng Shuai led an assemblage of top teams into the second round.
Mirza and Peng eased past the all-Croatian tandem of Petra Martic and Donna Vekic, 6-4, 6-1. The Indian/Chinese pairing broke Martic and Vekic four times, and after a tight first set, were untroubled throughout the remainder of the 55-minute match.
"We had a very important game at 4-4, 0-40, on [Peng’s] serve, and after we won that, we felt like we were the better team,” said Mirza after the match.
Peng agreed that they settled down after the opening set. “I think at the beginning, I was still a little bit nervous, not that comfortable,” she said to the press. “After we played a little bit, I talked with Sania, we helped each other, and I was feeling better. And in the second set, it was a much better feeling.”
"It's the first time playing the US Open together, and it was a good first round experience,” Peng continued. In fact, Mirza and Peng are playing only their third tournament together, although they had been circling each other for many years.
"We were trying to catch each other for the last two years, me and Peng, and we weren’t able to,” said Mirza. “She told me, ‘Oh, I was gonna ask you last year as well!’”
"We’ve known each other since we were 12 years old, I think,” Mirza continued, specifically referencing European under-14 ITF events they competed in as juniors, along with Peng’s former doubles partner, Hsieh Su-Wei. “So after all these years, it’s nice to play together.”
Peng and Mirza are pleased with their compatibility this early in their partnership. “Obviously, I play on the forehand side, and I’ve been very good on that side,” said Mirza, “and she plays on the backhand side, and she’s been very good all these years.”
Nevertheless, Mirza cautioned that compatibility does not always guarantee impressive results. “We’ve both won Slams, we’ve been No.1 in the past, so on paper, obviously it matches. But you still have to get it together on the court.”
One thing Mirza is sure about, though, is that she is happy to be back at the US Open. “I’ve had my best results here. I’ve won the women’s doubles, I’ve won the mixed doubles, and I’ve had my best result in singles here, fourth round.”
"Obviously, I like the courts, I like the city, and I like the vibe here,” Mirza elaborated. “So it’s great to come back to a place where -- I think every tennis player will tell you -- that you’ve done well in the past. You feel a certain vibe, and those memories are great when you come back.”
Meanwhile, in other first-round results on Thursday, No.5 seeds Timea Babos and Andrea Hlavackova defeated Nina Stojanovic and Natalia Vikhlyantseva, 6-4, 6-2, and No.6 seeds Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua outlasted Natela Dzalamidze and Veronika Kudermetova, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.
Also, No.7 seeds Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova moved past Alizé Cornet and Xenia Knoll, 6-3, 7-6(3), and No.9 seeds Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yifan advanced when Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and Andrea Petkovic retired at 3-2.
No.8 seeds Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke were upset, though, as they fell to Chuang Chia-Jung and Misaki Doi, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0.