Jamie Murray and Bethanie Mattek-Sands reach US Open mixed doubles final

Murray and Mattek-Sands, who are playing together for the first time, reached the final by beating the Americans Christina McHale and Christian Harrison 6-4, 2-6, 10-8 

US Open 2018: Roger Federer leaves court after defeat by Australian John Millman

There is no official world ranking list for mixed doubles players but if there was, Jamie Murray would surely lead it. The 32-year-old Scot will play in his fourth mixed doubles final in the last six Grand Slam tournaments when he partners Bethanie Mattek-Sands against Nikola Mektic and Alicja Rosolska here at the US Open on Saturday.

Murray and Mattek-Sands, who are playing together for the first time, reached the final by beating the Americans Christina McHale and Christian Harrison 6-4, 2-6, 10-8 on Wednesday. Earlier in the day Murray and his Brazilian partner, Bruno Soares, had gone out of the men’s doubles when they were beaten 7-5, 6-4 by Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri and Moldova’s Radu Albot.

Having won his first mixed doubles Grand Slam title alongside Jelena Jankovic at Wimbledon in 2007, Murray won two more last year when he partnered Martina Hingis to victory at the All England Club and at Flushing Meadows. Hingis retired at the end of the year.

After early exits at this year’s Australian Open and French Open, where he played with Latisha Chan and Katerina Siniakova respectively, Murray teamed up with Victoria Azarenka at Wimbledon two months ago and reached the final before losing to Alexander Peya and Nicole Melichar.

Azarenka chose not to play mixed doubles here and it was only days before the tournament that Mattek-Sands asked Murray if he fancied joining forces. The 33-year-old American is a former world No 1 in doubles and has won Grand Slam titles in both women’s and mixed but has been working her way back after suffering a horrific knee injury at Wimbledon last summer which kept her off the court for eight months.

Murray jumped at the chance to play with her. “I was like: ‘Great. Great partner for me, awesome doubles player and good fun.’ I’ve known her and her husband Justin quite a long time as well. It’s been cool and I’ve really been enjoying it.”

Mattek-Sands, a bubbly personality who has also enjoyed a good singles career, is one of the most colourful figures in the game, in every sense. She loves wearing ostentatious clothes, while the colour of her hair can change from one tournament to the next. Her choices here have been relatively conservative: blonde hair, a white top, a patterned hat and, as usual, knee-length compression socks.

The Scot and the American make a highly effective combination. Murray has lightning-quick reactions at the net and volleys superbly, while Mattek-Sands is comfortable anywhere on the court, has an instinctive feel for doubles and is a fine athlete.

The pair make for a highly effective combination

Murray and Mattek-Sands took the first set of their semi-final with a single break of serve but lost the second after going 5-0 down. From 6-6 in the deciding tie-break, however, they asserted their authority.

“Jamie kept me calm, cool and collected,” Mattek-Sands said afterwards. “I tend to get a little bit hyper and energetic. He’s the yin to my yang. He came up with some awesome volleys.”

Asked how they had turned things around after losing the second set, Murray said: “I felt like we were playing some good stuff. I felt like we were the stronger team and if we were able to hold our nerve and do what we needed to do in the tie-break, we’d have a great chance to win.”

Murray said the chance to reach another Grand Slam final had been good motivation for him after his defeat in the men’s doubles, at the end of which he had hurled his racket across the court in disgust.

It was a disappointing end to what has been a good summer on north American hard courts for Murray and Soares, who won the titles in Washington and Cincinnati and had not dropped a set in their first three matches here.

Jaziri and Albot, ranked No 59 and No 95 in the world respectively in singles, first played together at Wimbledon two months ago, when they were beaten in the first round, but have quickly gelled here.

Murray and Soares were up against it from the start as the Brazilian was broken in the third game. Albot dropped his serve in the following game, but at 5-5 Soares was broken again, giving Albot the chance to serve out for the set.

Murray’s men’s doubles campaign with Bruno Soares came to an end in the quarter-finals

The second set began in similar fashion, with Soares again dropping serve in the third game. Soares and Murray failed to take break-point opportunities on Albot’s serve at 1-2 and 3-4 and had to save a match point on Murray’s serve at 3-5. In the next game the match ended on the second match point when Soares missed a volley.

Murray, whose frustration was evident, said afterwards: “We didn’t play a good match. We started a bit edgy and we had chances in the second set, the whole way through, but we didn’t take our chances and that was it.

“They played some good stuff and we didn’t make enough first serves. We gave them a lot of looks on second serves and let them play a little bit too much but that’s it.”

He added: “We had a great opportunity today and for the rest of the tournament. We got ourselves into the business end of the event but unfortunately we couldn’t take it further. But we won a lot of matches over the summer.”

Murray and Soares should still qualify for the year-ending Nitto ATP Finals at the O2 Arena in London.

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