Jamie Murray had not planned to play mixed doubles at the start of this year but the Scot and his partner, Martina Hingis, won their second Grand Slam title in succession here at the US Open, beating New Zealand’s Michael Venus and Taipei’s Hao-Ching Chan 6-1, 4-6, 10-8 on Saturday in a final of rapidly changing fortunes.
Murray changed his mind about playing mixed doubles after Hingis asked him to partner her at Wimbledon and the pair have not looked back since. They are unbeaten as a team. Having won the title at the All England Club, they have followed it with victory here after winning some particularly close matches. They will share the winning pair’s prize money of $150,000 (about £114,000) to add to the £100,000 they won at Wimbledon.
“I tried to find the best partner I could,” Murray said at the victory ceremony when asked about their pairing. “She’s an amazing player. She’s had such a great career. It’s been a lot of fun. We’ve played a lot of good tennis this week. It’s three times we’ve won [a champions’ tie-break] 10-8 so it just shows how fine the margins are in mixed doubles with the format we play.”
Murray’s brother, Andy, who won the singles title here in 2012 but is currently resting after withdrawing from this year’s tournament with a hip injury, posted a message on Instagram saying he was a “proud little brother”.
This was Jamie Murray’s third Grand Slam mixed doubles title following his Wimbledon victories with Jelena Jankovic in 2007 and with Hingis this summer. The first British man to win the mixed doubles title here since Peter Curtis in 1968 has has also won two Grand Slam men’s doubles titles with his Brazilian partner, Bruno Soares.
For Hingis meanwhile this was a seventh Grand Slam mixed doubles title and her 24th in singles, mixed and women’s doubles combined. The 36-year-old Swiss won the singles title here 20 years ago in the first year that Arthur Ashe Stadium was used.
The final was played in near-perfect conditions in the biggest arena in world tennis. The sun shone but the temperature was just 20C.
Murray and Hingis won the first set at a canter. Venus had a shocker, dropping his serve twice and making a series of errors. When Chan served at 1-5 she went to set point down with a double fault and then hit a forehand beyond the baseline.
With Venus finding some form and Murray struggling on his serve, the second set was very different. At 2-2 Murray and Hingis went 0-40 down on the Scot’s serve, got the score back to deuce but then lost the game when Hingis netted a volley.
The break was retrieved when Chan dropped her serve again, but at 4-4 Murray was broken for the second time in a row. The Scot double-faulted at 40-30 before Chan hit a forehand winner on the deciding point.
Under the format for mixed doubles here matches are decided by a champions’ tie-break if the first two sets are shared. Murray and Hingis trailed in the tie-break until they went 7-6 up. Venus and Chan responded to lead 8-7, but Murray and Hingis won the next three points to take the match.
Martina Hingis plays a forehand shot during the third set (Getty)
A Murray smash levelled the score at 8-8 and his service winner set up match point. They converted it immediately with a point that summed up their qualities as a team. After Hingis, under pressure, had played a superb backhand down the line, Venus was unable to do enough with his pick-up as Murray rounded off their victory with a smash.
Hingis said afterwards that Murray was a great partner to have. “He carried me a lot of the time with his wingspan,” she said. “You saw that at the end.”
Asked about their success together, Hingis said: “We’re always there when it really matters. We’ve been there, we’ve won titles and we know how it’s done. I think just giving ourselves the chance to make the returns, to make the first serves, that is definitely key.”
Chan’s older sister, Yung-Jan Chan, will partner Hingis in Sunday’s women’s doubles final against the Czech Republic’s Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova.
Will Murray and Hingis continue their partnership next year? Murray said he was hopeful that they would play together more, but Hingis was coy, saying she preferred to enjoy the moment. Might the Swiss Miss be planning to retire at the end of this year – this time definitively – for the third time? Murray will be among those hoping that will not be the case.