A last-second addition to the U.S. Open mixed doubles field, Ekaterina Makarova and Bruno Soares are now Grand Slam champions.
The unseeded duo beat Kveta Peschke and Marcin Matkowski 6-7 (8), 6-1, 12-10 tiebreak in Thursday’s final.
Soares, a 30-year-old Brazilian doubles specialist, had turned down Makarova before the Open because he was set to play with his regular partner, Australian Jarmila Gajdosova. But with the minutes ticking down to sign up for the tournament, he realized they didn’t have a good enough ranking to get in. If he teamed with Makarova, with whom he had played a couple of times before, they’d get in.
Soares sent his coach scrambling to try to find the Russian on the practice courts.
”He went running all the way over there and talked to her and called me like 30 seconds to go and said, `You can sign,”’ Soares recalled. ”So very last minute, 11:59, I signed us in. I guess it worked out.”
In the first round, they upset the second-seeded team of Lisa Raymond and Mike Bryan. In the second round, they eliminated the other Bryan brother, Bob, and ended Kim Clijsters’ career.
”We knew we were a pretty good team,” Soares said. ”When we saw the draw, they made it very tough for us. … After the first match we played really good, and we talked to each other and said, `If we keep playing like this, for sure we’re going to have a chance to win the title.’
”That’s what happened. We had an amazing second round, and after that we knew it was just a matter of keep playing good.”
Makarova, who lost to Serena Williams in singles in the third round, was a mixed doubles runner-up with Jaroslav Levinsky at the 2010 Australian Open.
The fourth-seeded Peschke of the Czech Republic and Matkowski of Poland rallied from an 8-4 deficit in the tiebreak and had a championship point at 10-9.