Some of the most competitive tennis played at the US Open is done in relative obscurity. Far from the ESPN cameras, and only in the shadow of the National Tennis Center show courts, fully 49 of the 64 total first round doubles matches were completed Thursday.
Both the men’s and women’s doubles events start with 64 teams. The matches are best two of three sets. Unlike regular tour events, there is not a 10 point super-tiebreaker in lieu of a third set. A player must win seven matches to claim the US Open singles crown; a doubles team needs six wins to hoist the champions trophy.
What’s At Stake?
Most of today’s superstars rarely if ever play doubles, choosing to focus on the more lucrative singles events. Still, many of the world’s “near best” players, along with up and comers, aging veterans, and occasional doubles specialists play for money, titles and trophies. Winning teams at the US Open claim a huge purse; they split $660,000.
The prize money is significant. A singles player needs to advance to the quarterfinals to exceed the amount of prize money a doubles champion claims. Even teams that lose in the first round share $20,000 for their efforts.
Day 4 Scheduling
The storm that hit New York on Wednesday caused many doubles matches to be postponed or suspended. To catch up, fully 98 teams hit the doubles courts Thursday. While mammoth Arthur Ashe Stadium, new Louis Armstrong Stadium, and the spectacular Grandstand Court hosted only singles matches, many of the outer courts were filled with doubles action.
If they chose, a grounds pass holder could settle in on a selected outer court to watch six separate doubles matches. Almost never seen on television, the lightning fast pace of professional doubles play is great to view up close. Many of these courts have seating for only a few hundred fans, but those who watch see some great tennis. Big serves, spectacular volleys, and creative use of angles makes the doubles game compelling to watch. You never get to see a shot like this in singles:
— Lee S (@underarm_ace) September 2, 2021
The women’s and men’s #1 seeds won their matches. #1 women’s seeds Su-Wei Hsieh and Elise Mertens dominated Anna Kalinskaya and Yulia Putintseva 6-0 6-0. The top seeds won 51 of the 69 total points played to cruise to the second round. Men’s Wimbledon champions and #1 seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic topped Nathaniel Lammons and Jackson Withrow 6-2 7-5.
In other men’s action, young American Chris Eubanks gained some revenge against Frances Tiafoe after losing to him in the singles. Eubanks and Bjorn Fratangelo came back from a set down to send Tiafoe and Nichola Monroe packing, 4-6 6-3 6-2. In the day’s tightest match, Dominic Inglot and Austin Krajicek narrowly escaped against Henri Kontinen and Harri Hellovaara by taking the third set tiebreaker 12-10.
On the women’s side, Anastasia and Arina Rodionova topped #4 seeded Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Demi Schuurs 6-2 6-4 while #6 seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Bethanie Mattek-Sands edged Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Galina Voskoboeva 6-4 7-6(3).
Find the Dubs
While not household names, and relegated to ESPN+, the doubles do not disappoint. For those who want fast paced, high quality tennis–check out the dubs. For those with a ticket, find the outdoor courts and get up close. On TV, find the streaming options. There might not be commentators, but the competition can be electrifying.
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