US Open mixed doubles champions Jamie Murray and Bethanie Mattek-Sands in plea for more recognition


There were two showpiece finals played on Saturday, and two very different cheques delivered at the end of them. Jamie Murray and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who won the mixed doubles in comfortable style, would have needed to repeat the feat 48 times to earn as much as Bianca Andreescu.

Some might argue that the TV audience figures for the women's final were probably at least 48 times bigger. But the mixed final was well attended, filling the lower bowl of the enormous Arthur Ashe Stadium. And after their dominant 6-2, 6-3 victory, Murray and Mattek-Sands - who each received $80,000 (£65,100) as against Andreescu's $3.85 million -made a strong case for a more generous pay packet.

"I actually think it should be closer," said Mattek-Sands, a 34-year-old American who came out for the final wearing a variety of stars-and-stripes designs. "To me, mixed doubles is an undervalued tennis product.

"You have guys and girls playing on the same level, no handicaps. The guys aren't feeling bad for the girls. The girls pick on the guys. It's generally amazing tennis out there. We have great points. Guys and girls together, not too many sports can say they do that."

The point was echoed by Murray, whose latest victory made him the first man in almost 60 years to win three straight mixed doubles titles at the US Open. "I think doubles is kind of the bedrock of the amateur game," he said. "I think it's a huge part of our sport. I think it definitely has the potential to offer greater value to these tournaments than perhaps it does currently."

The mixed event is the poor relation of tennis, only popping up at these slam events, while regular men's and women's doubles carries on all year round. Yet Mattek-Sands is probably right to suggest that "we are under-utilised in marketing". January's Hopman Cup - the mixed event in Perth which has sadly been discontinued because of the new ATP Cup - drew massive global interest when Roger Federer faced Serena Williams in a match for the first time.

Saturday's final was certainly full of fine strokeplay, most of it coming from Murray and Mattek-Sands as they overwhelmed their opponents, Michael Venus and Hao-Ching "Angel" Chan - the top seeds who hail from New Zealand and Taiwan respectively. The defending champions broke serve six times in eight attempts, rare in a form of the game that stacks the odds against the returners.

Mattek-Sands finished the rout when she clubbed a backhand return up the line for a winner, though her absorption was so complete that she did not even realise that she had been contesting a match point.

"Jamie played awesome," she said afterwards. "Some of his returns today set me up at the net. Some of his lobs... I thought we played so well as a team together. We had a couple great points where I was covering a volley in the alley, he covered the middle, we won the point. I didn't know it was the end [because] I was having fun out there."


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