New York | Barty & Azarenka take out top seeds
At the US Open on Tuesday, doubles took centre stage on a sunny Day 9 in Louis Armstrong Stadium, and once the dust had settled, one half of the semi-finals were set in both the men’s and women’s doubles draws.
I think we have quite enough experience to believe [we can win the title], It kind of comes with experience. We’ve both done it before. Victoria Azarenka
Highlighting the day was a dramatic comeback victory by a pair of former World No1 singles players.
Ashleigh Barty, Australia’s superstar took a giant stride towards notching another major milestone in her incredible 2019 season, powering into the US Open doubles semi-finals with Victoria Azarenka with a 2-6 7-5 6-1 comeback win over top seeds Timea Babos & Kristina Mladenovic.
Barty teamed with American Coco Vandeweghe to topple Babos & Mladenovic in last year’s final at Flushing Meadows.
That breakthrough earned Barty her maiden Grand Slam title after she had lost all 4 major finals in Melbourne, Paris, London and New York with fellow Aussie Casey Dellacqua.
A year on and the French Open singles champion is now 2 wins away from becoming the first woman in more than a decade to secure back-to-back US Open doubles crowns.
Frenchwoman Nathalie Dechy was the last player to achieve the feat in 2006 and 2007 with Russians Vera Zvonareva and Dinara Safina.
Set to regain her World No 1 singles ranking next week, 23-year-old Barty & Azarenka will play either Viktoria Kuzmoza & Aliaksandra Sasnovich or 3rd seeds Gabriela Dabrowski & Yifan Xu in the semi-finals.
Barty & Azarenka stormed back from a set and 4-2 down against Babos & Mladenovic, winning 11 of the final 13 games to secure their victory over this year’s Roland Garros champions.
“It was just a matter of trying to keep some scoreboard pressure and taking our opportunities a little bit better,” said Barty.
Azarenka & Barty have now needed three sets to win in 3 of their 4 contests in New York, but a confident Azarenka told reporters that her team has all the experience they need to push for the silverware here.
“I think we have quite enough experience to believe [we can win the title],” Azarenka said. “It kind of comes with experience. We’ve both done it before.”
Earlier on Day 9, another big-name team booked a slot in the semis, as Elise Mertens & Aryna Sabalenka powered past Yingying Duan & Saisai Zheng.
Mertens is the lone player in the doubles draw who is still alive in the singles draw, and she looked switched on alongside Sabalenka, as the pair claimed its fourth consecutive straight-sets win, 6-4, 6-3.
Of the 2 teams to punch into the Last 4 on the men’s doubles side in New York on Tuesday, only the German duo of Andreas Mies & Kevin Krawietz has claimed a Grand Slam title as a team before.
The No 12-seeded duo were first to go through on Day 9, as they eased past unseeded Leonardo Mayer & Joao Sousa, 7-6 6-4.
The Germans won their first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros in June and made history by becoming the first all-German duo to win in Paris.
Dropping just 13 points on serve in the 86-minute contest, the German pair served brilliantly, and they never faced a break point.
Krawietz & Mies will face No 8 seeds Horacio Zeballos & Marcel Granollers in the semi-finals in New York.
The Spanish-Argentine duo edged Austrians Oliver Marach & Jurgen Melzer, 7-6 6-4, to book their first US Open semi-final as a team.
Zeballos reached the semi-finals for the first time since 2010, when he was paired with Eduardo Schwank.
“You think I’m happy? Yeah, of course I’m so happy,” said a beaming Zeballos immediately after clinching the victory.
Granollers, a 2014 US Open men’s doubles finalist [with Marc Lopez] was a force at the net during the hour 43 minute contest.
The Spaniards maintained a high level throughout the match and the Montreal champions are looking like potential winners in New York as they ride a 9-match winning streak into the semi-finals.
“I think we’re playing very well, serving good, returning good,” Granollers said. “We fight every point.”
An exciting day in Louis Armstrong Stadium concluded with another dramatic tilt as Barty’s Fed Cup teammate Samantha Stosur made it through to the final 4 of the mixed doubles with Rajeev Ram.
Stosur & Ram accounted for 6th seeds Demi Schuurs & Henri Kontinen, 4-6 6-4 [14-12], in a match tiebreak, saving a pair of match points in the process to prevail, and will face Bethanie Mattek-Sands & Jamie Murray in the semi-finals.
The 2005 women’s doubles champ and 2011 women’s singles champ at the US Open is bidding for the New York triple in Queens this year.
Murray & Mattek-Sands edged one step closer to successfully defending their title by overcoming second seeds Mate Pavic & Gabriela Dabrowski in the quarter-finals.
After losing the first set, Murray & Mattek-Sands dug deep to prevail 2-6 7-5, [10-4].
The former Doubles No 1 and 2016 US Open men’s doubles champion, 33-year old Murray, is still alive in the men’s doubles also, with Neal Skupski, and will play Americans Jack Sock & Jackson Withrow on Wednesday for a place in the semis.
Also still in the doubles is Britain’s Luke Bambridge and his Japanese partner, Ben McLachlan, whose impressive run continued as the pair booked their place into the quarters with a 6-3 7-6(4) win over French duo Jeremy Chardy & Fabrice Martin.