NEW YORK, NY, USA - Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray are through to the US Open mixed doubles final after narrowly seeing off American wildcards Christina McHale and Christian Harrison in a match tiebreak.
It’s Mattek-Sands and Murray’s first Grand Slam final as a duo, and Mattek-Sands’ ninth overall. Murray is the defending champion here and paired up with Mattek-Sands after Martina Hingis’ retirement, a partnership the two arranged over text.
The pair needed just one break of serve to seal the closely-contested opening set, converting their fifth break chance to grab the lead at 3-2. But they quickly found themselves down 0-5 in the next as the Americans staged an impressive comeback to send the match into a tiebreaker.
The teams were toe-to-toe for much of the match tiebreaker, with Mattek-Sands and Murray edging ahead and McHale and Harrison closing the gap. Then at 6-6, Mattek-Sands and Murray reeled off the last two points of the match to close out their spot in the final.
Even the ballboy is ready for my selfie! Enjoying this moment! Last year I was on crutches.. this year I’m competing for a title... Anything is possible when you choose to CHOOSE your attitude, no matter what. Also take notes on Jamie’s volleys.. #NextLevel #MixedDubs @usopen 🎾 pic.twitter.com/Jvm0PybEyV
— Bethanie MattekSands (@matteksands) September 6, 2018
“Today we played a solid match,” Mattek-Sands told press afterwards. “Christina and Christian came up big in that second set and even though they don’t play a ton of doubles - and obviously, none of us play doubles together - they came up with some really good shots, returning really well. It wasn’t that Jamie and I were going to underestimate them, we knew that we had to play well and play our game.
“The tiebreaker is kind of its own set, I think. It doesn’t matter what happened the first two sets, you can gather your own momentum in the tiebreaker. And that’s kind of what Jamie and I did - we just stuck to our game plan and I was really happy that we came out with some of those clutch points.
“That’s what I play for, those moments. I don’t mind the pressure, I like those moments and go for it when everything is on the line. I really enjoyed my time out there.”
For Mattek-Sands, the final berth comes nearly a year and two months after a horrible knee injury at 2017 Wimbledon left her unable to walk or play tennis for months. It’s also her first final of any kind - singles, doubles or mixed - since her return to action at the Miami Open.
“I think this one is a little more special,” Mattek-Sands admitted. “Every Grand Slam final that I’ve been in has been really special. They’ve all been different, come in different times in my life.
“This one means a lot because one year ago, I was on crutches. And this year I’m competing in a final. I’m not a big reminiscer, I don’t like looking into the past - I’m very in the moment - but I have a couple of days, so I can take a look back and see how far I’ve come and pat myself on the back, I guess.”
Standing between Mattek-Sands and Murray and the US Open mixed doubles trophy will be Alicja Rosolska and Nikola Mektic, a fellow unseeded team who knocked out Zhang Shuai and John Peers, 2-6, 6-4, 10-7 later in the day.