Samantha Stosur of Australia and Zhang Shuai of China have paired up to win their second Grand Slam women’s doubles title as a team with victory at the 2021 US Open.
No.14 seeds Stosur and Zhang outlasted 11th-seeded American teenagers Coco Gauff and Caty McNally, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in a closely-contested final on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Stosur and Zhang, who also joined forces to win the 2019 Australian Open, have won their last 11 matches, as they confirm their standing as the hottest team on tour at the moment. They came into the US Open having won the title in Cincinnati last month.
Stosur has now claimed four Grand Slam women’s doubles titles, two of which have come in New York. She also won the US Open way back in 2005 alongside Lisa Raymond, as well as 2006 Roland Garros with Raymond. Stosur also has won three mixed doubles Grand Slam titles.
The 37-year-old Australian’s triumph in doubles this year comes 10 years after she won her only singles major title at the US Open, when she stormed past Serena Williams in the 2011 final.
Meanwhile, Zhang is now an undefeated 2-0 in major doubles finals, with both of her Grand Slam trophies coming alongside her long-time friend Stosur.
Neither team had dropped a set coming into the final, and that stat finally gave way for both tandems, as they got involved in a nearly two-hour-long three-set tussle. Both teams held onto their serves wonderfully, and the win came down to one extra break which the Australian-Chinese pair obtained in the final set.
"It was just such a tight tussle the whole match, a few points here and there," Stosur said during the champions' press conference. "We stuck together as a team, played aggressive, went for it as we always do, and it pays off.
"It's just a phenomenal feeling to have this trophy again 16 years later. Winning the singles here, I've got so many amazing memories here playing in New York. I love coming back here, I love the courts, I love the atmosphere. Obviously a very special place for me. It's brought out some of my best tennis in my career over obviously many, many years."
"We are so good friends, forever," Zhang added. "When we're on court, no matter [if] we win or lose - yes, today we won - but some days we lost, it's okay. We're still happy on court. Now nothing can break us I think. We will for sure play together more."
Despite the loss, it was still a breakthrough week for "Team McCoco," Gauff and McNally, who made their first Grand Slam semifinal and final.
"Obviously not the result that we wanted, but we were there," Gauff said, after the match. "I think the match was decided within, like, three or four points. I think for next time we know how to do better on those points. Our opponents, Shuai and Sam, played a great match. There's a reason why they've both had a couple Grand Slams, great results in Grand Slams."
🏆 2019 Australian Open— wta (@WTA) September 12, 2021
🏆 2021 US Open
A second Grand Slam title for 🇦🇺 Sam Stosur and 🇨🇳 Zhang Shuai! pic.twitter.com/EAC0OT8EyB
Stosur and Zhang never faced a break point in the opening frame, and they notched the lead in that set by breaking for 5-3 after a Stosur volley winner landed square on the sideline. The Aussie veteran, a former WTA Doubles World No.1, followed up with a love hold to collect the one-set lead.
But the Americans got more looks in on return in the second set, and they were rewarded at 4-3, when a handful of Stosur volley miscues led to three break points in that game. A stunning Gauff return forced an error from Zhang on the third of those chances, and the teens took a 5-3 lead. A McNally volley winner closed out the following game, and the match was tied up.
Both squads saved early break points in the decider, but Stosur and Zhang pulled ahead for good after, once again, a break of serve in the eighth game. There, a tremendous backhand crosscourt winner by Zhang set up break point, and Stosur converted that chance with a stunning return winner off the McNally serve.
With Stosur serving for the title at 5-3, her team saw one championship point fended off by a winning lob off of Gauff's racquet. But two missed returns by the Americans in the final two points gave a second Grand Slam title to the ecstatic veterans.