Work in Sports
Hewitt/Mirnyi first unseeded team to win doubles title
NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Australian Lleyton Hewitt and Max Mirnyi of Belarus became the first unseeded team to capture the U.S. Open men's doubles title Friday.
Hewitt, 19, and Mirnyi, 23, clinched the championship by winning a third-set tiebreaker from the fourth-seeded team of American Rick Leach and Ellis Ferreira of South Africa to complete a 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 triumph.
Hewitt and Mirnyi, who split $340,000 for their victory over this year's Australian Open doubles champions, were the seventh unseeded men's doubles team in the open era to reach the U.S. Open final.
"It's been an unbelievable week," Hewitt said during the awards ceremony after claiming his first career Grand Slam title.
"It's the first time I've teamed up with Max. It has been fantastic to come out here and win," added the Australian, who faces Pete Sampras in the men's singles semifinals Saturday.
Hewitt has a chance to become the first player since John McEnroe in 1981 to win both the U.S. Open men's singles and doubles titles in the same year.
Mirnyi, runner-up with Anna Kournikova in this year's mixed doubles competition, previously teamed with Serena Williams to win the 1998 Wimbledon and the U.S. Open mixed doubles crowns.
"It's a wonderful feeling. I'm delighted by my performance the past two weeks," said Mirnyi. "Thanks to my partner. I hope we can team up again."
Friday's match marked the Grand Slam finale for doubles great Leach, winner of five Grand Slam titles and runner-up seven times at major championships with a variety of partners.
"It was a treat to be back in the finals and to play in this great stadium," the 35-year-Leach, who plans to retire at the end of the year, told the crowd. "It's still a treat to be playing at my age."
Ferreira and Leach split $170,000 for reaching their second Grand Slam doubles final together.
"I wish I caught him earlier in my career," Ferreira said, paying tribute to Leach. "He was a great champion."
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