Photo of the week: Double trouble


Elise Mertens has won her first Grand Slam title, taking home the doubles trophy from Flushing Meadows

‘Perfect doubles pair’

Flemish tennis player Elise Mertens (left) won the doubles trophy at the US Open earlier this week, together with partner Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus. It’s Mertens’ first Grand Slam title.

The pair, seeded at 4, beat Victoria Azarenka and Ashleigh Barty 7-5, 7-5 in two sets at Flushing Meadows. Mertens and Sabalenka, which the US Open website called a “perfect doubles pair”, only lost one set in the entire tournament.

While Mertens is known for being calm and steady, Sabalenka is more aggressive, with powerhouse serves and returns. “I take everything from her,” Sabalenka told the US Open news sites. “She doesn’t know that, but I take a lot of things.”

Mertens said that she’s in awe of Sabalenka’s “fighting spirit” on the court. “She stays positive and serves really well. And I can do some things at the net, so it’s working for now.”

Sunshine Double

The pair have culminated a 10-0 winning streak earlier this year, winning both Indian Wells and the Miami Open (known as completing the coveted “Sunshine Double”). “I can’t believe we won a Grand Slam!” Mertens exclaimed after the latest win. “It’s all so new. I’m thankful to Aryna. I keep her going, and she keeps me going.”

It’s the first time since 2004 that a Belgian player has won a Grand Slam doubles tournament. That year, Belgians Xavier Malisse and Olivier Rochus won the men’s doubles at the French Open. The year before, Flanders’ Kim Clijsters and Japan’s Ai Sugiyama took trophies home from both the French Open and Wimbledon.

Speaking of former world number 1 Clijsters, she made an announcement yesterday that took the tennis world – and the local media – by storm.

As for Mertens, she and Sabalenka – now WTA 2 in doubles – will be heading to the WTA finals in October. Mertens could also get there as a singles player: She made the quarter-finals of the US Open and is WTA seeded at 24.

Photo: Peter van den Berg/BELGA