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.
“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.