The all-Czech team of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka avenged their loss in last year's women's doubles final on Saturday night in Arthur Ashe Stadium, defeating the No. 8 seeds Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua of Australia, 6-7, 6-1, 6-4, to take home the 2013 crown.
“Before the match I told Lucie, last year was a silver year, we were always second, so let’s get this Grand Slam trophy and make this season worth it,” an emotional Hlavackova said following the match.
Though the 2011 French Open champions haven’t gotten the results they’ve wanted over the past two years, they entered the US Open as the No. 4 seeds and were red hot entering the final after downing Serena and Venus Williams in the semifinals. They generally dominated their competition along the way, dropping only one set en route to the final, to the No. 3 seeds Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik in the quarterfinals.
"We got ourselves together also health wise, because Lucie was injured a lot during the year," Hlavackova said. "And we clicked right away from the first match very well, even though we had no matches to prepare for US Open. It's been a great wave we have been riding these two weeks. I cannot describe how I feel."
Hlavackova and Hradecka, longtime doubles partners, have won 10 tour-level titles together. The US Open was their 12th event as a team in 2013.
Runners-up Barty and Dellacqua were playing in only their fifth event together, but they’ve had incredible success as a doubles team, advancing to the finals of Wimbledon and the Australian Open in addition to the US Open in 2013. They entered the final having not lost a set, with victories over three Top 10 teams.
“I don’t think there’s any secret [to our success],” Dellacqua said. “It’s just about coming out here and having fun with a friend. We enjoy playing together and I think that’s why we’ve had a lot of success.”
It was a tight contest to start off the match. Both teams held serve in the first set until the Aussies captured the first break to take a 5-4 lead. They had the opportunity to serve out the set, but the Czech team immediately broke back, putting the set back on serve and eventually sending it to a tiebreak, which the Aussies dominated.
Barty and Dellacqua used the momentum from their first set win and took the first game of the second set by breaking Hradecka’s serve. It turned out to be the only game of the second set the Aussies would win, as the Czech duo were unstoppable at the net, blasting overhead winners and finding all the right empty spaces to win six straight games.
It was anyone’s match in the third set, with both teams exchanging breaks and hitting an equal number of winners at 12. Though they had some rowdy Australian fans in their corner, Barty and Dellacqua couldn’t convert all their chances to break and they ultimately had the more error-filled set, with 11 unforced errors to the Czech team’s six.
“Hopefully one day we’ll be able to lift one of those trophies but we’ll keep buckling down and trying our best,” said the 17-year-old Barty, the youngest woman on court on Saturday.
With the win, Hlavackova added another piece of hardware to her trophy case. She won the US Open mixed doubles title with partner Max Mirnyi of Belarus on Friday.
“It’s been amazing, I can’t believe I won two Grand Slams in two weeks,” said Hlavackova, who is the first woman to win both the women’s doubles and mixed doubles title at the US Open since Cara Black in 2008.
When asked how she was going to travel with both trophies, Hlavackova replied with a smile, "I remember from last year they send them, so I'm totally fine. Even if [they didn't] I would pay extra luggage for trophy like that."
After a 2012 season where they were the runners-up at both Wimbledon and the US Open and silver medalists at the London Olympics, and a 2013 season that found them exiting from of the rest of the Grand Slams in earlier rounds than they had hoped, the two friends shared an emotional embrace at the net after their win on Saturday. Not only did they succeed in capturing their second Grand Slam career title, but they also became the only all-Czech team to win a US Open title in the history of the tournament.
"For our small country, it's something big," Hradecka said.