WHAT HAPPENED: The first champions at this year’s US Open were crowned, as No. 1 seed Sania Mirza of India and Bruno Soares of Brazil defeated unseeded Abigail Spears of the United States and Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico, 6-1, 2-6 [11-9] in exactly one hour.
On a warm Friday in Arthur Ashe Stadium, the 21-minute first set began with Soares, 32, serving first and fending off two break points before holding. After two additional holds of serve, Mirza, 27, and Soares broke on their second break-point opportunity for a 3-1 lead. The No. 1 seeds broke again on Gonzalez’s serve for a 5-1 lead. Mirza got to set point on her serve, and a backhand lob winner by the Indian over the head of the 6-foot-3 Mexican Gonzalez, 31, gave her team the first set, 6-1, in 21 minutes.
In the third game of the second set, Spears, 33, began to step up on her serve, as she saved a break point and deciding point, both with aces. The unseeded team then got two break-point chances on Mirza’s serve and converted the first for a 3-1 lead. Three holds of serve later, Mirza saved two set points on her serve, but the deciding point ultimately went to Spears and Gonzalez to level the match at one set apiece.
In the third-set match tiebreak, Mirza and Soares got a mini-break for a 3-1 lead. Later, a double fault from Spears gave Mirza and Soares another mini-break for an 8-4 lead. Mirza was then serving up 9-4 with championship points, but a double fault and forehand error from the Indian prolonged the match. Despite Spears and Gonzalez saving five championship points in a tense title-deciding third set, Spears eventually sent a backhand volley long on the sixth championship point to give the match, and title, to Mirza and Soares, who hugged each other after clinching the victory and their first Grand Slam title as a team.
As they collected their runner-up trophy, Spears said, “We love playing here, and I always have fun playing with him.” It is their second consecutive year coming in second at the US Open, but Gonzalez is already looking forward to 2015 with his partner. “For sure. Third time’s a charm,” he said.
Mirza, who has now captured her third Grand Slam mixed doubles title (her other wins being at the 2009 Australian Open and 2012 French Open, both with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi) jokingly said of Soares, “He’s a lot of fun. He didn’t play with me for all these years. I’m not sure why.”
Soares, who won the mixed doubles title here in 2012 with this year’s women’s singles semifinalist and women’s doubles finalist Ekaterina Makarova, said, “I keep getting the right partners, I guess,” and added, “New York is just a great city.”
WHAT IT MEANS: As the winners, Mirza and Soares will split $150,000 in prize money. As mentioned in their on-court interview, the two also plan to play together at next year’s Australian Open.
THE QUESTION: Are Mirza and Soares the best mixed doubles team on the tour?