The final of the women’s doubles competition at the 2016 US Open in New York could not have been more thrilling.
12th seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova showed nerves of steel to bounce back from a set and break down and upset the top-seeded French pair of Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia, 6-2, 6(5)-7, 6-4 in a marathon 2 hours 6 minutes contest on Sunday.
One Wimbledon title away from a Career Slam
This is the American-Czech team’s third Slam title together, after having triumphed at the Australian Open and the French Open last year. With this latest achievement, they are now just a Wimbledon title away from completing a much-coveted Career Slam.
The American now has a total of five Major titles which includes two mixed doubles crowns.
The 12th seeds were completely outplayed in the initial stages of this match. The French duo broke them twice with some pinpoint accuracy, as the two-time Slam champions found it hard to adjust to their opponents’ thunderous pace.
On their way to the final, Mladenovic and Garcia had beaten each of the defending champions – Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza – who were playing this time with different partners. Those wins gave them more confidence.
In the second set, they grabbed a break to lead 5-4 and looked on course to add to the French Open title they had clinched earlier in the year.
But their determined show could not deter their experienced rivals. The 12th seeds pounced on every opportunity – even when Garcia was serving for the match and broke them back to put the contest back on level terms.
Riding on that momentum, Mattek-Sands and Safarova snatched the second set in a tie-break.
Attack all the way
With their chemistry working perfectly, the American-Czech duo attacked right from the very first game in the decider. The two teams had crossed swords in the Charleston final in April where Mattek-Sands and Safarova were outclassed in straight sets.
They were sure of not letting the French girls inflict on them yet another heartbreak.
Having earned a crucial break in the opening game, Mattek-Sands and Safarova held on to their advantage till the end to march to the title.
It had been an up-and-down season for both Mattek-Sands and Safarova with both of them suffering from injuries. They had reunited to win the Miami Open in March but had to endure disappointing first round defeats at the French Open and Wimbledon.
But they came to the US Open after a fantastic show at the Rio Olympics where both of them captured medals.
While Safarova partnered Barbora Strycova to the women’s doubles bronze, Mattek-Sands won the gold in mixed doubles alongside Jack Sock.