On a day that Serena Williams lost her chance to achieve a calendar Grand Slam, she still had three titles in 2015. Only India’s Leander Paes and Switzerland’s Martina Hingis could match Serena Williams with three titles; the Australian Open, the Wimbledon and now the US Open. The Paes/Hingis team also emerged as the first mixed doubles team since 1969 to win three Grand Slam trophies in the same season at the US Open on Friday. It was 46 years ago, when Marty Riessen and Margaret Court had achieved that feat. In a hard-fought match on Friday morning, the fourth seeded Indo-Swiss duo defeated unseeded Americans Sam Querrey/Bethanie Mattek-Sands. After squaring two sets, the match slipped into super tie-break, in which Paes/Hingis held their nerves and added the New York crown to their victories in Melbourne and Wimbledon earlier this year. It was the 9th mixed doubles title for Leander Paes and with his victory in Friday’s championship match, the Indian veteran now holds the distinction of winning more Grand Slam mixed doubles titles than any other man in the Open Era.
The first set began on a positive note for Paes/Hingis, who broke Mattek-Sands at love to take a 2-1 lead. It was a typical Hingis style, in which she played a delectable forehand passing shot to secure the break. Paes/Hingis kept the momentum going. On his service at 5-4, Paes easily closed the set 6-4, when Hingis produced a volley winner. However, the Indo-Swiss pair couldn’t carry their first set performance into the second. In the fourth game with Hingis serving, Mattek-Sands hit two straight winners and the Americans took a 3-1 lead. Mattek-Sands/Querrey pushed Paes/Hingis in the seventh game with Hingis saving three set points on her serve. But Querrey served next and an easy hold from him sent the contest into the deciding super tiebreak.
When the American duo played forcefully early in the match tiebreak, they looked like wrapping things up with a 4-1 lead. But Paes/Hingis were not to yield so easily. They got the minibreak back from their opponents. At 7-7, it was anybody’s game until Paes blocked Querrey’s service with a clean passing-shot. Then when Paes served, he won both the points and closed the match with a 6-4, 3-6, 10-7 victory. As usual, Paes celebrated by lifting Hingis up.
The victory in the mixed doubles gave Martina Hingis her second title at the US Open since 1998, when she won the women’s singles champion. While it was the first mixed doubles title for Hingis, it was second for Paes, who had also won in 2008 with Cara Black of Zimbabwe. Overall it was ninth Grand Slam doubles title for Leander Paes, who surpassed compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi’s 8 titles. Only Martina Navratilova holds more titles with 10. Incidentally, Hingis is on the threshold of adding another title against her name at the US Open, if she could win the doubles final with Sania Mirza on Saturday.
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