Perez feeling “very proud” of Grand Slam breakthrough
Ellen Perez is hoping to continue a career-best run in the US Open 2022 women's doubles competition and advance to a first Grand Slam final.
Ellen Perez is enjoying a career-best run at this year’s US Open, advancing to the women’s doubles semifinals alongside American Nicole Melichar-Martinez.
The 26-year-old from New South Wales had never previously progressed beyond the third round at Flushing Meadows, but is now two wins away from claiming a first Grand Slam title.
“It feels amazing, of course,” Perez told tennis.com.au. “I think it’s kind of been a long time coming. I’ve felt like I belong at this level and just haven’t had the results or managed to have that breakthrough win. I’ve had some tough losses and missed opportunities at times, so to be able to finally get there I feel a lot of relief and also very proud.”
It was Perez who initiated the partnership with Melichar-Martinez, reaching out after learning she had split with Chile’s Alexa Guarachi.
They teamed up for the first time during this year’s clay-court season, but did not win consecutive matches in their first four tournaments together.
It wasn’t until Wimbledon, where they progressed to the quarterfinals, that their partnership began to show promise.
“We’re starting to understand where each other likes to move on the court, what each other likes to do, what our tendencies are. I think that’s very important in doubles, knowing where your partner is going to go and to be able to cover them,” the left-handed Perez noted.
“When we first started out, we were a bit unsure … but now we’ve worked that out, we’re obviously very confident in our play.”
This is reflected in their recent results. Perez and Melichar-Martinez made back-to-back WTA 1000 finals appearances at Toronto and Cincinnati, then claimed their first team title at Cleveland.
The duo are now on an eight-match winning streak and have won 16 of their past 18 matches.
“We’re that type of pair that go after our shots,” Perez said of their biggest strength as a team.
“We both serve very well, so more times than not we’re able to hold, and we’re both very good at the net, so we’re able to complement each other when we do put in good serves. I think that also puts a lot of pressure on our opponents, as they have to come up with great returns to get it by us.”
Currently sitting at a career-high ranking of world No.26, Perez is projected to make her top-20 debut following her success in New York.
A top-10 debut is also a possibility with a title-winning run.
“That would be amazing,” Perez said. “Before coming on this US trip, I was No.48 and I remember thinking my ranking isn’t where it should be and I really wanted to prove that to myself.”
Czech combination Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, the reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champions, await in tomorrow’s semifinals.
Perez and Melichar-Martinez were the only team to win a set against world No.7 Krejcikova and world No.3 Siniakova at Wimbledon, extending the five-time major champions to three sets in their quarterfinal clash.
Their most recent meeting was at Cincinnati last month, where Perez and Melichar-Martinez won in straight sets.
“We have beaten them recently, but we also know what they’re capable of and how good of a team they are,” Perez said.
Although determined not to “look too far ahead”, Perez is excited at the prospect of potentially reaching a first Grand Slam final.
“We all dream of that. It’s always one of the goals to win a Slam, or at least making finals would be amazing,” Perez said.
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