Mertens And Sabalenka Win First Grand Slam Title At US Open

Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka (photo: US Open)

NEW YORK, September 8, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)

An exceptional season of women’s doubles on American hardcourts culminated with the United States Open final, won by fourth seeds Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka over No. 8 seeds Victoria Azarenka and Ashleigh Barty, 7-5, 7-5. It was the first Grand Slam title for both Mertens and Sabalenka.

There was little margin for error during the one hour and 37 minute final played on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Each set came down to a late service break, both times in the 11th games that broke a pair of 5-all deadlocks, in which the winning team was able to consolidate each. Azarenka and Barty were undone by their two-for-eight conversation rate on break points, while Mertens and Sabalenka converted four-for-four.

Despite being outpointed 74-71, Mertens and Sabalenka prevailed on their first match point when Azarenka committed an unforced error on a forehand smash that was part of a back-and-forth, all-court rally.

“Something unbelievable happened this year, especially in doubles,” said Sabalenka during the trophy ceremony. “Elise is an amazing player and it’s really great to play with her. I enjoyed every second on the court.” Then, she turned to Azarenka and Barty and expressed, “Thank you, girls, for this amazing final. You played really unbelievable. It was a great fight.”

Mertens thanked the crowd for their support. “They kept me going every time,” she said. “I can’t believe we won a Grand Slam. It’s all so new. I want to thank Aryna. She keeps me going, I keep her going. I hope we’re going to play doubles in the future, but I think so.” To which Sabalenka deadpanned, “I will think about it.”

Barty gave props to the winners. “These guys have had an incredible year on the hard courts. They won the big points and that’s why they’re champions,” she said in accepting the runner-up trophy with Azarenka.

Azarenka added, “It was a great two weeks. I love playing with Ash; she’s a great partner. It was a pleasure to play with her and I hope we can continue to play together.”

Each of the four competitors came into this year’s final with an accomplished singles resumé and both Azarenka and Barty had previously lifted Grand Slam trophies in singles.

A year ago, Barty from Australia won the doubles title with CoCo Vandeweghe of the United States. She and Azarenka, from Belarus, advanced after losing just a single game during their semifinal win over Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia and Aliaksandra Sasnovich from Belarus on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Mertens of Belgium and Sabalenka, also from Belarus, came into the final with a prior win over Azarenka and Barty that came during the semifinals of the Miami Open, which was part of their 10-match winning streak during March’s “Sunshine Double,” winning back-to-back titles at Indian Wells and Miami.

This fortnight, Mertens made the deepest singles run of the final four doubles players, losing to eventual champion Bianca Andreescu in the semifinals. She was the highest-ranked doubles player in the final, at No. 7. Her teammate, Sabalenka, is in the Top 15 in both singles and doubles.

With their US Open win, Mertens and Sabalenka have qualified for the WTA Doubles Finals in Shenzen in November.

No. 4 seed Forejtek wins boys’ singles crown

Fourth seed Jonas Forejtek from the Czech Republic rallied from a set down to defeat American Emilio Nava, 6-7 (4), 6-0, 6-2, to win the boys’ singles final on Louis Armstrong Stadium. The 18-year-old Forejtek, a native of Pilsen, won 12 of the final 14 games and outpointed Nava 92-74 to earn his title victory in one hour and 34 minutes.

Colombia’s Osorio Serrano wins girls’ singles title

No. 4 seed Maria Camila Osorio Serrano of Colombia, defeated American qualifier Alexandra Yepifanova, 6-1, 6-0, to win her maiden Grand Slam title in her last junior major. The 17-year-old Colombian broke Yepifanova in each of her six service games en route to capturing the title. Ahead 2-1 in the opening set, Osorio Serrano won 10 consecutive games to wrap up her 48-minute victory on Court 17. She dropped just one set the entire tournament.

Wheelchair winners dazzle

• Great Britain’s Allie Hewett made it back-to-back US Open men’s wheelchair titles by beating Stephane Houdet of France, 7-6 (9), 7-6 (5). It was Hewett’s third Grand Slam singles title of his career.

• World No. 1 Diede De Groot of the Netherlands won her second straight US Open women’s wheelchair singles title with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over World No. 2 Yui Kamiji of Japan. It was De Groot’s third Grand Slam singles title this year and followed her earlier triumphs at the Australian Open and the French Open.

• In a flawless performance, Andy Lapthorne of Great Britain won his Second US Open quad singles title since 2014 by defeating World No. 1 Dylan Alcott of Australia, 6-1, 6-0. The defending US Open champion Alcott was attempting to achieve a calendar year Grand Slam.

What they’re saying

Last night, during her post-match press conference, US Open women’s singles champion Bianca Andreescu, who was born in Mississauga, Ontario, of Romanian parents, was asked if it was hard growing up in Canada as an immigrant. She responded: “No. Canada is such an amazing country. It’s so multi-cultural. I had no trouble growing up having Romanian parents whatsoever. That’s why I love my country so, so much.” Andreescu’s parents, Nicu and Maria, and the family’s pet dog, Coco, were in her player’s box throughout the New York fortnight cheering for her.

What they’re tweeting

After Bianca Andreescu’s maiden Grand Slam title victory Saturday night, there were many congratulatory tweets from around the tennis world. Among them:

• Hall of Famer Billie Jean King: Congratulations to @Bandreescu_ on winning her first major title at #USOpen. She is Canada’s first Grand Slam singles champion. 🇨🇦 The Future is Now.

A phenomenal effort by @serenawilliams until the very end.
#SheTheNorth #USOpenFinals

• Two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep: Congratulations @Bandreescu_ on an amazing performance and your first grand slam!

Romania is very proud of you 🤗🇷🇴

Highest overnight rating for ESPN

Saturday’s US Open women’s singles final, won by Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu over 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams of the United States, earned a 2.7 overnight rating for the three-hour telecast broadcast throughout the United States, ESPN’s best ever for the event and up 13 percent from a the previous high of 2.4 set a year ago. The two-hour match portion earned a 3.0, and the rating peaked at a 3.9 rating from 5:45-6 pm. ET, during the closing moments of the match. A ratings point represents 1 percent of all households in the United States.

Sunday’s results

Women’s doubles final
No. 4 Elise Mertens, Belgium/Aryna Sabalenka, Belarus, d. No. 8 Victoria Azarenka, Belarus/Ashleigh Barty, Australia, 7-5, 7-5

Junior boys’ singles final
No. 4 Jonas Forejtek, Czech Republic, d. No. 8 Emilio Nava, United States, 6-7 (4), 6-0, 6-2

Junior girls’ singles final
No. 4 Maria Camila Osorio Serrano, Colombia, d. Alexandra Yepifanova, U.S., 6-1, 6-0

Junior girls’ doubles final
No. 5 Kamilla Bartone, Latvia/Oksana Selekhmeteva, Russia, d. Aubane Droguet, France/Selena Janicijevic, France, 7-5, 7-6 (6)

Wheelchair men’s singles final
Allie Hewett, Great Britain, d. Stephane Houdet, France, 7-6 (9), 7-6 (5)

Wheelchair women’s singles final
No. 1 Diede De Groot, Netherlands, d. No. 2 Yui Kamiji, Japan, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4

Wheelchair men’s doubles final
Allie Hewitt/Gordon Reid, Great Britain, d. Gustavo Fernandez, Argentina/Shingo Kunieda, Japan,  1-6, 6-4, 11-9

Wheelchair women’s doubles final
No. 1. Diede De Groot/Aniek Van Koot, Netherlands, d.  Sabine Ellerbrock, Germany/Kgothetso Montjane, South Africa, 6-2, 6-0

Wheelchair quad singles final
Andy Lapthorne, Great Britain, d. Dylan Alcott, Australia, 6-1, 6-0

Wheelchair quad doubles final
No. 1 Dylan Alcott, Australia/Andy Lapthorne, Great Britain, d. No. 2 Bryan Barten/David Wagner, United States, 6-7 (5), 6-1, 10-6