US Open: Herbert/Mahut come through tough test in a third set tiebreaker

The former US Open champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut scraped through their opener in a third set tiebreaker to advance into the second round.

Herbert/Mahut
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Monroe/Smith

2015 US Open champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut came through a tight first-round match as they defeated the American-Aussie pair Nicholas Monroe and John-Patrick Smith 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(2). 

Herbert/Mahut grab the only break of the set to go ahead 

The match began with all four players holding their serve, with only one point dropped thus far with the score at 2-2. In the fifth game, the match started to open up and Monroe/Smith earned a deuce game but the French pair came through to sneak back out infront for 3-2.

The Patrick-Smith serve then went missing as he served back-to-back double-faults, handing two break points to the ninth seeds. On this occasion, his serve came to the rescue as he served an ace out wide to save the first breakpoint.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert strikes a volley (Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Pierre-Hugues Herbert strikes a volley (Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

He and Monroe would save another to send the game to deuce. Herbert/Mahut would become frustrated as they missed a third breakpoint opportunity as the American-Aussie duo held on for 3-3.

But just two games later in the eighth game, Monroe/Smith was again put under pressure but managed to save two more break points. At the third attempt, Mahut got the break, leaving Herbert to serve for the set. The 27-year-old raced away to a love-40 lead, gaining three set points. He finished off a perfect game to take the opening set 6-3. 

Patrick-Smth & Monroe fight back to level the match 

Serving first at the start of the second, the unseeded pair of Patrick-Smith/Monroe found themselves in trouble as the ninth seeds grabbed a breakpoint at 30-40 with Monroe sending a volley wide at the net. An excellent second serve from the Aussie sent the game to deuce but the French pair would grab their second breakpoint just a point later.

The unseeded pair would go on to save another break point and hold two points later to avoid going further behind. Meanwhile, Mahut sailed through his service game to make it 1-1. The next three service games also went with the server as Monroe/Smith aimed to put pressure on the Frenchmen.

Nicholas Monroe and John-Patrick Smith fist bump after taking the second set (Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Nicholas Monroe and John-Patrick Smith fist bump after taking the second set (Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

But it was Herbert who put his own team in trouble as he served up a double-fault to gift a breakpoint chance at 30-40. Mahut would get Herbert off the hook momentarily as Monroe/Smith brought up their second break point of the game with the American showing excellent reflexes to slot the ball between the Frenchmen from a Herbert overhead.

A poor Herbert volley gifted the American-Aussie the break, which they consolidated to go 2-5 ahead. The 36-year-old Frenchman held his serve but it wouldn't stop Patrick-Smith holding to take the second set 3-6. 

Frenchmen sneak through via tiebreaker 

With the match all square at one-set apiece, all four players on court held serve relatively easy for 2-2. The American then targeted the 27-year-old Frenchman and got his reward of two breakpoints as a volley sailed long. A brave second serve from Herbert resulted in a saved breakpoint but still facing one more, Monroe/Smith took their chances and broke for 2-3.

However, an error-filled game presented the Frenchmen with triple break back points immediately. Herbert then targeted Monroe who fired a volley wide as the French pair broke to make it 3-3.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Niolas Mahut talk in between points (Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Niolas Mahut talk in between points (Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

For the first time in five matches, the ninth seeds regained the lead to go 4-3 infront. Both teams then missed a breakpoint opportunity to go ahead as the French team remained ahead at 5-4 in the set. The next three games came and gone, and with no breakthrough as of yet, a tiebreak was to settle the contest.

The Frenchmen lost serve straight away but in the third point, got back on track and held twice to go up 3-2. The ninth seeds would win the next two points on the Monroe serve, who became frustrated and received a warning for his troubles. An unforced error return by Smith gave the Frenchmen match point, which they would take to clinch the victory.