Murray/Soares Top Defending US Open Champions
Brit/Brazilian will face Carreno Busta/Garcia-Lopez in final
Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares knocked off the defending US Open doubles champions Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert on Thursday and will now play for their second Grand Slam title of the season in New York. Behind three service breaks, including one to clinch the semi-final match, Murray/Soares beat the Frenchmen 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in the new Grandstand.
The Brit/Brazilian duo, who started playing together this season, won the first Grand Slam tournament they played, the 2016 Australian Open. But they lost in the third round in Roland Garros and fell in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.
“To knock off the champs we had to play at an amazing high level,” Soares said. “These guys have been playing some incredible tennis for the last two years. They're No. 1 in the [Emirates ATP Race To London]. They're the No. 1 seeds, defending champs, so we had to come up with high-quality tennis and I think we were able to do that most of the time.”
In New York, they'll hope for more good luck on hard courts when they face Spaniards Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in Saturday's final. The unseeded Spaniards beat their eighth-seeded countrymen Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez 6-3, 7-6(4). Carreno Busta/Garcia-Lopez won the only break point they saw; Lopez/Lopez were 0/6.
With the win, the Spaniards will play for their first Grand Slam tournament doubles title. Before this year's US Open, Carreno Busta/Garcia-Lopez had never reached the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam tournament in doubles.
“That's incredible,” Carreno Busta said on court after the match. “I never dreamed to be here playing in the final but I'm really happy because we are playing... really good with more confidence.”
The odds were also against Murray/Soares. Mahut/Herbert had beaten Murray and Aussie John Peers in last year's US Open final. The top seeds and Wimbledon champions also had beaten Murray/Soares in their sole prior match-up this season, a 4-6, 6-0, 10-6 win in the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters final.
But Murray/Soares struck first during Thursday's semi-final. With Mahut serving at 0/40, 5-5, Soares delivered a strong return to Herbert, who netted the backhand volley. Soares served out the set and the No. 3 team in the Emirates ATP Doubles Teams Rankings was halfway to another Grand Slam tournament final.
Mahut/Herbert brought a crucial break of their own in the second set, though. The duo broke Murray at 4-5 to force a third set in Flushing Meadows, a consequence fans applauded. Both teams had produced “Can you believe that?” moments throughout the match. During one point in the second set, Soares sprinted to the baseline, tracked down a lob and hit a swift tweener to Herbert. But the Frenchman, who was standing at the net, slapped it away with a forehand winner to cheers from the crowd.
“It's the way doubles is right now,” Soares said of the high-quality points. “There's so many teams playing on a very high level right now.”
In the decider, Murray/Soares mounted their best games. The Brit/Brazilian duo won 82 per cent of their first-serve points (14/17), and after not earning a break point in the second set, Murray/Soares broke Mahut/Herbert twice to march into the final.
“Great performance from us today. We served very well throughout the match and kept them quiet on return for the most part,” Murray said. “Really excited to be back in the final and excited to play on Arthur Ashe [Stadium] on Saturday.”
The teams might meet for a third time later this season. Both teams have qualified for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, which will be held 13-20 November at The O2 in London.