Jamie Murray successfully defended his US Open mixed-doubles title on Saturday, although his former partner Martina Hingis could only watch from the stands after her retirement at the end of last year.
In Hingis’s stead, Bethanie Mattek-Sands stepped up with a superb performance in the concluding moments of their 2-6, 6-3, 11-9 victory over Nikola Mektic of Croatia and Alicja Rosolska of Poland. Her reflex lob volley in the early stages of the champions tie-break was critical to swinging a tight match.
As the winners celebrated their title, Murray was able to sing happy birthday over the PA system to mother Judy, whom he playfully accused of being 75. (She is actually 59.) But there was raw emotion from Mattek-Sands, who suffered a horrific knee injury at last year’s Wimbledon that left her screaming in agony on the court.
“Going from not getting out of bed last year to playing these finals,” said Mattek-Sands, as tears ran down her face. “I don’t care what anyone tells you: you’re too old, you’re too young; you’re too big or you’re too small; you haven’t had enough opportunities or you’re still waiting for yours – you can do anything if you put your mind to it. Go out there and choose your attitude. Choose happiness every day, no matter what, and big things will happen.”
Mattek-Sands is a former doubles world No. 1, but she struggled in the early stages of this entertaining contest, dropping both her first two service games. There was no great understanding between her and Murray in the first set, as exemplified by the backhand that he walloped into her back as she tried to cross in front of him.
The match turned in the second set, however, as Mattek-Sands found her range and the European pairing – who had not played in a final at a major tournament before – began to fade. Murray carried them level with another silky reflex volley on the final point of the second set, and they eventually managed to scrape home on their fourth match point.
“Jamie is very calm and poised out there and I am very energetic and we match,” said Mattek-Sands. “We fit together, he covers me, I cover him and it’s been a great couple of weeks. I have been watching him play these ridiculous lob volleys and I managed to hit one in the tie-breaker.”
As for Murray, who has now won four mixed-doubles titles with three different partners (the first one coming with Jelena Jankovic at Wimbledon all the way back in 2007), he suggested that he had “a talent” for picking the best partners. He also benefited from playing alongside an American in front of an enthusiastic and partisan home crowd.
“Today things were going against us,” said Murray. “We fought really hard to get back into the match and had a lot of support from the crowd.”