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Melichar, Battistone win National Playoffs Mixed Doubles

Nicole Melichar and Brian Battistone took home the Mixed Doubles title at the 2012 US Open National Playoffs.
By McCarton Ackerman
 
The US Open National Playoffs Mixed Doubles Championships concluded on Saturday with the championship match at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. No. 2 seeds Nicole Melichar and Brian Battistone of the U.S. saved their best tennis of the tournament for when it mattered most, defeating No. 1 seeds Hilary Barte and Nicolas Meister 6-4, 6-3 on the Grandstand court and earning the coveted wild card into the main draw of the mixed doubles event at the US Open.
 
Melichar and Battistone were able to make an immediate impression on Meister’s serve from the beginning of the match. The No. 2 seeds earned break points in his first two service games before finally converting in the lone break of the set at 4-5, when Melichar rifled a passing shot down the middle to clinch the opening set.
 
"This was a match that we weren’t going to win by playing safe," said Melichar. "We had to go for it and really take advantage of our chances when they came because we weren’t going to get many of them."
 
Barte and Meister earned their first break of the match in the opening game of the second set on Battistone’s serve when Melichar missed a routine forehand volley. Unfortunately, Meister continued to struggle on serve, hitting a pair of double faults to give the break back in the very next game. The second seeds began to stand well inside the baseline on their returns of serve and rush the net at the first opportunity, taking charge of the rallies and racing to a 4-1 lead.
 
With Battistone serving for the match at 5-3, the duo converted on their first opportunity with an overhead winner from Melichar and ran to embrace each other in celebration. The win sends Melichar into her debut Grand Slam event, while Battistone competed in the men’s doubles event at the 2010 US Open, where he lost in the first round.
 
"When we were first playing the sectional championships to get into the tournament here, we were kind of joking about going all the way to the US Open, but we can’t believe it actually happened," said Battistone. "Playing in the US Open two years ago was the highlight of my career and now getting to go back there for mixed certainly matches that."
 
Battistone retired last year after five years as an ATP Tour doubles specialist playing almost exclusively with brother Dann. He reached a career high ranking of No. 88 in 2010.
 
The 19-year-old Melichar has been playing a heavy schedule on the pro tour this year, improving her ranking nearly 250 spots to her current career high of No. 409 on the WTA Tour. She’s won two $10,000 futures event in Turkey so far in 2012.
 
But now that the duo have gotten into the US Open, they said they’re not going to be content with just playing there. They cited last year’s mixed doubles championships at Flushing, where the American team of Melanie Oudin and Jack Sock rode their wild card all the way to the title
 
"Anybody can win. That’s the whole point of a tournament," said Melichar. "There aren’t going to be any bad teams or easy matches at the US Open, but we’re going in thinking that we can do well. It would be a dream to do what Melanie and Jack did by winning the whole thing, but we’re just worrying about our opening match first. We’re going to head to New York tomorrow to start practicing and working on some things that we need to fine tune for next week."
 
The US Open Mixed Doubles Championships will kick off on Wednesday and run through September 9 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY.
 
US Open National Playoffs--Mixed Doubles Championships
Saturday, August 25
Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale University
New Haven, Conn.
Surface: Hard-Outdoor
 
RESULTS
 
Mixed Doubles - Finals
 
Nicole Melichar and Brian Battistone, United States (2), def. Hilary Barte and Nicolas Meister, United States (1), 6-4, 6-3
 

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