Ekaterina Makarova and Bruno Soares survived their third super-tiebreak of the tournament and won the 2012 US Open mixed doubles title.
© Philip Hall/USTA
by David Rosenberg
Thursday, September 6, 2012
The unseeded team of Ekaterina Makarova and Bruno Soares survived their third super-tiebreak of the tournament and won the 2012 US Open mixed doubles title Thursday, beating the fourth-seeded team of Kveta Peschke and Marcin Matkowski 6-7 (8), 6-1, 12-10.
Mixed doubles is often decided by the strength of the female player. For most of the first set it appeared that Makarova, the youngest and least accomplished doubles player of the four, was the strongest on court. She held her first two service games easily and was aggressive on her returns, helping to break Peschke early in the set. Makarova and Soares built leads of 5-3 and 6-5 only to see Peschke and Matkowski break back, the second time breaking Makarova’s suddenly ineffective serve at love to send the set to a tiebreak.
Peschke and Matkowski have had more doubles success than Makarova and Soares. Peschke won the women's doubles Wimbledon title in 2011 and became the top ranked women's doubles player in July of 2011. Matkowski has had the most success at the US Open, reaching the final of the men's doubles championship last year. They were successful with a combination of steady play from Peschke coupled with the powerful serve of Matkowski. It wasn't as flashy as Makarova and Soares, but they survived two set points in the tiebreak, eventually winning it 10-8.
In the second set, Makarova and Soares immediately broke Matkowski and then broke Peschke to lead 3-0. It took them 23 minutes to capture the set 6-1 in which they hit 12 winners against one unforced error, winning 27 or the 38 points played to send the final to a super-tiebreak.
The final set super-tiebreak is a controversial topic on the doubles circuit, with many players resenting the sudden-death format to end a match, prefering to play the set out. But Thursday it was the saving grace of a final that lacked emotion until the very end.
The aggressive play of Makarova and Soares helped them build an early lead of 8-4 before Peschke and Matkowski once again fought back, taking five straight points to reach match point at 9-8. From there the match finally hit its peak and finished with a flury of spectacular gets and entertaining rallies. Peschke and Matkowski held another championship point at 10-9 only to lose three straight points and the match 12-10.
"We just tried to stay positive, play solid and play our game," said Makarova after the match. "I'm so happy."
The loss was tough for Peschke who was hoping her third US Open mixed doubles final would be a charm, having lost in 2006 with Martin Damm and in 2010 with Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi. In both of those finals she lost to Bob Bryan once with Liezel Huber and another time when he partnered Martina Navratilova to her final Slam title.
Makarova and Matkowski, who signed up to play less than a minute before the deadline, took care of Bob Bryan in the second round when they beat him and Kim Clijsters, sending Clijsters into retirement with the victory. They also beat Mike Bryan and Lisa Raymond, the No. 2 seeded team in the first round.
"Disappointment is huge," said Peschke after the match.