US Open: Zvonareva, Siegemund win women's doubles title

First-time partners Vera Zvonareva and Laura Siegemund found their games worked together and plan to partner again at the upcoming French Open.

The rules of tennis during the coronavirus pandemic were the only thing Zvonareva and Siegemund couldn't figure out in their first tournament together.   -  Getty Images

Vera Zvonareva and Laura Siegemund stood awkwardly facing each other, rackets and arms in the air in confusion.

Finally, Siegemund turned to the chair umpire for a ruling.

"Are we allowed to give a hug?" she asked.

The rules of tennis during the coronavirus pandemic were the only thing Zvonareva and Siegemund couldn't figure out in their first tournament together.

The duo won the U.S. Open women's doubles title Friday, beating the third-seeded team of Xu Yifan and Nicole Melichar 6-4, 6-4.

Zvonareva and Siegemund collected $400,000 - and also their hug - by racing to quick leads in both sets and holding on when their opponents began to play better.

Unseeded after deciding to play together shortly before the tournament, Zvonareva and Siegemund found their games worked together and plan to partner again at the upcoming French Open.

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"I felt like the third match we really started communicating well, we really started to understand each other," Zvonareva said. "Yeah, it just got better and better from there on."

Zvonareva, a Russian who turned 36 this week, added this title to the 2006 U.S. Open trophy she won with Nathalie Dechy. She also was the runner-up in singles at Flushing Meadows in 2010, falling to Kim Clijsters, and rose to a career-high singles ranking of No. 2 the following month.

She also won the 2012 Australian Open doubles title but later battled injuries and began playing less, especially after giving birth to daughter Evelina in 2016.

"It wasn't easy," Zvonareva said. "I had a lot of injuries in the past and always trying to come back, and it's a big privilege for me to be here today."

Zvonareva and Siegemund, who have each won the U.S. Open mixed doubles title, raced to a 5-1 lead in the first set and a 3-1 start in the second. Siegemund, who was sharp early, paid tribute to an aunt who died of cancer while she was in New York. Her parents were late arriving to the match after returning from the funeral.

"I think she had the best seat in the house so I just want to dedicate it to her," the German said.

Xu and Melichar finished second for the second straight tournament in New York. They were runners-up at the Western & Southern Open that's usually played in Ohio.

 

Siegemund's triumph marred by personal loss

Siegemund said she was filled with mixed emotions her triumph on Friday, the day of her aunt's funeral.

Siegemund's aunt, Helga, the twin sister of her mother, died from cancer nearly three weeks ago when the German was in New York ahead of the U.S. Open.

"Today was her funeral, my parents came from that to watch the match. They missed the first couple games because of that," Siegemund, 32, told reporters.

"There were a lot of things going on in my head. I mean, she's 65. That was no age (to go). My cousin is my age. I cannot imagine what's going on in her head right now.

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During the trophy presentation following Siegemund and Zvonareva's 6-4 6-4 win over third seeds Nicole Melichar and Yifan Xu, the German pointed upwards and blew a kiss to the sky.

"Some things are more important than career. When it comes to family, and you cannot be there in the last moments at a funeral, that's hard," added Siegemund.

Siegemund said her aunt's death had put her in a difficult position and while she wanted to be with her family, she did not want to leave Flushing Meadows midway through the tournament.

"I feel this is one of the biggest sacrifices because I don't want to just leave the tournament and say, I'm going home because this is more important. It's my job to be here. It was really hard," she said.

Siegemund said she missed receiving a congratulatory text from Helga after securing her first Grand Slam doubles title.

"She always wrote me nice texts. She would have texted me something for sure. I just feel like I know she's watching and I wanted to say something," she said.

[With inputs from Reuters]