John Peers and Storm Sanders have taken out the mixed doubles title at the US Open – the first Aussie pair in 21 years to do so.
In their first-ever major tournament together, the Aussie pair had to battle from a set down to defeat Belgian Kirsten Flipkens and Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin 4-6, 6-4 (10-7) in a memorable triumph.
It made them them the first Australians to win a mixed doubles grand slam title since Jarmila Wolfe and Matt Ebden at the 2013 Australian Open, and the first to do so in the US Open in 21 years after Aussie legends Rennae Stubbs and Todd Woodbridge.
‘I can’t believe we’re grand slam champions,’ beamed the 28-year-old Sanders, the Queensland left-hander who hails from Rockhampton, the town that produced Rod Laver.
A jubilant Storm Sanders reacts after winning the US Open mixed doubles title with fellow Aussie John Peers (back to camera)
It was Sanders’ first Grand Slam title, while the 34-year-old Peers again demonstrated his long-standing doubles prowess in the Arthur Ashe Stadium as he added the title to his 2017 Australian Open men’s victory.
Neither played had gone beyond the semi-final stage at the US Open before, though Peers was one half of the bronze-medal winning team at the Tokyo Olympics, alongside Ash Barty.
The fourth seeds showed their mettle in a fluctuating contest, notably producing their best tennis both at the start of the match and in the 10-point tiebreak decider.
John Peers and Storm Sanders hold the US Open mixed doubles championship trophy aloft
Their unstoppable finish saw them become the first all-Australian mixed doubles champs at Flushing Meadows since Stubbs and Woodbridge captured the 2001 title.
The duo also nabbed themselves a handy $238,000 payday.
Turning to Peers after the match, Sanders told him: ‘It’s crazy – thanks so much for playing with me … To play on the biggest court in the world, it’s been a memorable experience.’
For Peers, this victory was particularly sweet.
He finally won a mixed doubles Grand Slam title at his 32nd attempt; having delivered the winning ace in the tiebreak in front of his adoring wife and two daughters.
John Peers and Storm Sanders, long-time friends, celebrate winning the US Open mixed doubles with Peers’ daughters Harper and Ellie
‘Stormy, we got one! Well done!’ he told Sanders after the match.
Both had also been inspired by the presence courtside of Aussie legend Sam Stosur, who famously won the 2011 US Open singles as well as seven Grand Slam doubles titles.
‘It’s a pleasure to play in front of a champion like you,’ Sanders told her while speaking on-court.
She elaborated later, in the press conference, how crucial Stosur’s support had been.
Sam Stosur (pink hat) watches on as fellow Aussie Storm Sanders and John Peers take out the US Open mixed doubles title
‘Having Sam there as well watching on, it was just super amazing. Kind of gave me a little bit of calmness knowing that she was there. I think she yelled out ‘Believe in yourself’ to me once, and that definitely helped,’ Sanders said.
Having dropped just one set all tournament, the first all-Australian team to reach a US Open mixed doubles final since Alicia Molik and Woodbridge in 2004 lost their way and fell a break down at 3-4.
Down a set, Peers, brilliant all match with his overheads, upped his game when it mattered most, producing the goods for the key break – and their only one – in the 10th game of the second stanza.
They then just about controlled the breaker thanks to the buffer of an early 3-0 lead.
‘I trusted Johnny on his serves and volleys,’ Sanders said, recalling how she hoped ‘he can hit a good serve on match point.’
John Peers hits a return in his win with Storm Sanders over Kirsten Flipkens and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the US Open final
He did just that – with his service game absolutely on-point.
The Australian pair, who are long-time friends, had been hoping to play a tournament together for some time but it had never worked out until they arranged this year to play the US Open.
And it isn’t the last we’ll see of them.
Storm Sanders was strong in the mixed doubles final
‘We’ll be back next year,’ Sanders promised the crowd, beaming, before Peers later insisted before that they’d be in action together in Melbourne.
‘We’re definitely playing Aussie,’ he smiled, in what is sure to please plenty of fans Down Under.
Their triumph continued the excellent series of Australian successes in grand slam doubles in 2022, which also featured men’s wins at the Australian Open (Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios) and Wimbledon (Max Purcell and Matt Ebden).