It was Jamie Murray’s sixth grand slam title, his fourth in mixed doubles and his first with Bethanie Mattek-Sands. But, he hopes, this was the first of many with his new partner.
Murray and Mattek-Sands beat Alicja Rosolska of Poland and Nikola Mektic of Croatia 2-6, 6-3, 11-9 on Saturday to claim the US Open trophy and for most of the match they were playing catch-up. But as two former world No 1s and serial major championship winners, they found a way to get past their inspired opponents.
Joining forces only a matter of days before the tournament began, they are hoping that this could be the start of a lasting and profitable double act.
With the Australian Open only three months away, Mattek-Sands is determined not to lose the winning momentum and the unique chemistry she and Murray have on court.
“There are no guarantees,” she said. “In mixed doubles, we only play four times a year [at the slams]. It’s not like you get practice time in or anything. We’ve warmed up once this time. That’s why it’s kind of that communication and chemistry on the court that you rely on during the match.
“We’re just setting each other up really well and eventually you kind of know what they’re covering and what they’re not covering. Jamie is so funny: ‘It’s all good, it’s all good’. You miss the worst volley ever and he’s like: ‘You’re good’.”
The win gave Murray his third trophy in three years at the US Open – in 2016 he won the men’s title with Bruno Soares, last summer he won the mixed with Martina Hingis (who came to cheer him on in Saturday’s final) and now he is the champion again.
But if mixed doubles is the oddity of the grand slam circuit – scratch pairings that come together as much for fun as any serious intent – both Murray and Mattek-Sands believe passionately that doubles in any format is the way forward for the sport.
“I think the doubles game has a lot of fans,” Murray said. “Your average tennis player that goes down to their club or park to play, they’re playing doubles with their friends. They can relate to it more. I think compared to watching Federer or Serena, they can relate more to what’s going on on the doubles court.
“We need to keep kind of showcasing it as a great part of tennis, not just kind of like the sort of ugly stepsister for singles, if you like.”