NEW YORK—It needs to be said: One of the best matches of the fortnight was the women's doubles final. The match was buried between the controversial women's single's final and the men's singles final, which started while the doubles champs were literally still wiping off their sweat.
The Sunday afternoon final saw five-time Grand Slam finalist Ashleigh Barty and two-time mixed doubles finalist CoCo Vandeweghe take on Australian Open champions Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos.
"I think we have experience with separate partners, but also as singles players also," Vandeweghe said. "I think it's finally the first time we've played together at a Grand Slam. I was just dying for it. She was great to play with for two weeks."
Mladenovic and Babos were the No. 2 seeds, but Vandeweghe and Barty, this year's Miami Open champs, had beaten the top seeds, Wimbledon champions Katerina Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova, in the semifinals. They had yet to lose a set but dropped the opener 6-3.
Things weren't looking good for the American-Aussie duo when they went down double match point at 5-4. A notable turn in the momentum came when Babos netted a forehand on one of the match points, missing it so badly it bounced on her side of the net first.
"We were all over them and controlling the whole match," Babos said. "I think it just slipped out of our hands in the second set, and then after we were down big time, and we were really fighting till the end, and this is why they are such a great team."
Vandeweghe and Barty stormed through the second-set tiebreaker, 7-2, and then went up 3-0 in the third set. Neither had ever won a Grand Slam final, but had played seven between them. Barty reached all five of her women's doubles finals with Casey Dellacqua, who retired earlier this year.
Mladenovic and Babos clawed back before Barty and Vandeweghe had two match points at 5-4, but failed to capitalize. By the time the deciding tiebreaker began, the stadium was packed in anticipation of the Novak Djokovic vs. Juan Martin del Potro final, set to start within the half hour.
Barty helped save Mladenovic and Babos' third match point at 6-5 by hitting the forehand of the day, a huge winner that literally blew her opponents and her partner away.
"It was unbelievable nerves from Ash. She basically has ice in the veins right now," Vandeweghe said. "That was so clutch, I'm floored. I am floored."
At 7-6, Mladenovic double faulted to give Vandeweghe and Barty the milestone victory, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (6). It was anti-climatic finish for such an insane final. It should be noted that the mixed doubles final saw some drama too with Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray winning an 11-9 deciding tiebreaker over Nikola Mektic and Alicja Rosolska.
Epic match. Grand slam final. Crazy emotions. Cruel end. But walking out with heads up high and full of memories. Thank you ma @timeababos for being my partner in crime. No doubt we will continue to write amazing pages in our book. ???? Thank you @usopen & see you next year for new battles! #USOpen #newyork #heretocreate ???? @cocodubreuil
Due to the length of the match, which was just over 2.5 hours, the awards ceremony was rushed and the four women weren't given a chance to speak.
"It was an American playing in the championship. I'm just bummed we didn't have any sort of award ceremony," Vandeweghe said. "We couldn't thank anyone. I think that was poor form."
"But at the end of the day, I mean, we still played a really good match and get to celebrate with our teams after," Barty added. "I think it would have been nice to voice that straight after the match."
Speech or not, the US Open got to present two first-time champions with the trophy and $700,000 in prize money.
"I told Ash, Listen, there's no one I'd rather be out here than with you right now. I believe in you. We're going to get this done," Vandeweghe said. "I'm so happy to be here now at the end with a trophy."