That Merrick product Scott Lipsky and partner Rajeev Ram lost their U.S. Open men's doubles semifinal Thursday hardly poisoned the experience.
Lipsky and Ram played the Bryan twins, Bob and Mike, whose presence represents a graveyard of hopes for so many teams. At 36, the Bryans have won a record 15 major-tournament titles and are closing in on a historic 100th title overall.
They played on the Open's No. 1 show court, Arthur Ashe Stadium, and it wasn't until the Bryans got a service break in the sixth game of the third set that they took control of matters for an eventual 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory.
"It was fun," said Lipsky, who long ago settled in Irvine, California. "I mean, to play another match out there on Ashe . I thought we played well. One or two points changed the match at the end and it went the other way."
Lipsky, 33, a veteran doubles specialist, teamed with Australian Casey Dellacqua to win the 2011 French Open mixed doubles championship, but he never had been to a Slam semifinal in men's doubles.
What he and Ram got was a dose of both the Bryans' hyper skills and their celebrity. Repeatedly, a vocal group of fans sang out soccer-like chants backing the Bryans.
"I thought it was great," Ram said. "The more people who watch doubles, the better. Nobody was obnoxious or anything."
The choruses were initiated by two Australians, Mike Bryan said. "We met them in Melbourne" during an Australian Open. "We got 'em tickets."
They, and the other Ashe Stadium patrons, were treated to a tight match that didn't tilt toward the Bryans until midway through the final set. With Mike serving at 2-2, 15-30, Lipsky ended a furious rally at the net with a backhand pass winner to reach double break point.
But Ram's defensive lob went wide and Lipsky netted a forehand. And, after the Bryans held serve, they converted the second of two break points in the next game when Lipsky doubled-faulted.
The irony there is that Ram typically defers to Lipsky to serve first in their matches because, Lipsky said, "that's really my strong point.''
"They got the one game when they were down a break and we didn't," Lipsky said. "They always find ways to win these close matches. They're always playing in these situations.
"But I thought we played well. We hung in there with them. This is the best we've done in a Grand Slam. Disappointed today, but happy about that."
The match played out with the usual doubles urgency, squeaking sneakers, lightning reactions, the pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop of volleying duels. Ram and Lipsky could be heard communicating during points with shouts of "You! You!"
So the Bryans were not stopped in their march toward a 100th title. Not that Lipsky and Ram would have felt badly about knocking them off.
"They're going to get it, regardless," Lipsky said.
Hingis in doubles final. Martina Hingis will play in the U.S. Open women's doubles final for the first time since winning the 1998 title.
Hingis, inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame last year, and partner Flavia Pennetta got to this year's title match by beating the third-seeded duo of Cara Black and Sania Mirza, 6-2, 6-4, Thursday. Hingis, who turns 34 on Sept. 30, ended her latest retirement to play doubles last year. She has won nine Grand Slam titles in doubles and five in singles. In Saturday's final, Hingis and Pennetta will face Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, who are seeded fourth. -- AP