The absence of Serena Williams and early departure of Andy Roddick may have left many feeling a void in American tennis, but Venus Williams isn’t the only one still carrying the stars and stripes at the US Open. There are still contenders out there from the U.S. and two of them picked up the tournament’s first trophy on Thursday.
Bob Bryan and Liezel Huber certainly have a lot in common. Both stand in the top spot in their doubles rankings, a position that Bob Bryan shares with brother Mike. Between them they have over 100 doubles titles. They are also very familiar with the US Open winners’ circle. The Bryans took the men’s doubles crown in 2005 and 2009, while Liezel Huber and partner Cara Black were the women’s winners in 2008. As far as mixed doubles is concerned, Bob Bryan has previously won three other times, with three different partners—Martina Navratilova in 2006, Vera Zvonareva in 2004 and Katarina Srebotnik in 2003. He was ready for number four.
There was only one other time that Americans Bob Bryan and Liezel Huber played doubles together before the 2010 US Open. It was at the 2009 French Open and it worked out well as they won the championship. They appeared to be set on doing the same this year. Despite the wind whipping through Arthur Ashe Stadium, the duo managed the one needed break in the first set for 6-4. The second was running tight until an incredible forehand winner by Bob Bryan followed by a winning lob led them to a break for 4-3. They held and took the event with a 6-4 finish.
Despite the win, there was none of the famous Bryan chest bump. “He wants to chest bump, chest bump, chest bump,” says Huber. “I'm like, no. Do it with your girlfriend, don't chest bump me. “ It was a hug instead that celebrated their championship win.
There’s not going to be any partying tonight, though, as both players have big matches coming up on Friday. The top-seeded Bryans are due to play the men’s doubles finals against Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Quereshi, who eliminated second-seeded Daniel Nestor and Nemad Zimonjic in the third round. Huber and partner Nadia Petrova of Russia will be playing the semifinals of women’s doubles for a space in the finals against Vania King of the U.S. and Kazhatsan’s Yaroslava Shvedova.
There was no hugging, but there was some friendly banter in the junior championships after fellow Americans and friends Evan King and Denis Kudla got off Louis Armstrong Stadium court. The two had wowed the crowd—and the Tennis Channel audience—before 10th-seeded Kudla took the match at 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-4. King, who is about to start his sophomore year at the University of Michigan, reveled in the moment rather than disappointment that his US Open run ended in the third round. “It was just a great experience,” he said. “I mean, how many times are you going to play on what’s probably the second biggest stage in tennis?”
Denis Kudla is far from the only American player left in the junior championships. Unseeded Dennis Novikov and wild-card Jack Sock are also in the final eight of the boys’ singles draw. There are also three players from the U.S. left in girls’ singles—qualifier Robin Anderson, 15th-seeded Sloane Stephens and fifth-seeded Monica Puig. Stephens and partner Timea Babos, who have already won the Wimbledon and French Open Junior Doubles Championships this year, are in contention for the title here. Then, of course, there’s still Venus Williams, but the No. 3 seed has to get past No. 2 Kim Clijsters on Friday afternoon before she can hit the finals.
In men’s singles action on Thursday, Mikhail Youzhny rallied to beat Stanislas Wawrinka 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in four hours, to gain a semifinal berth. He’ll play the winner of the all-Spanish Rafael Nadal-Fernando Verdasco quarterfinal.
By Marcia Frost