MIAMI — When the doubles draw dropped at the Miami Open, Sofia Kenin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands scanned the list up and down — they weren’t in it. The American duo had requested a main-draw wild card, but they were on the outside looking in when the draw came out.

So they made their own luck. Already champions in Abu Dhabi in February, Kenin and Mattek-Sands stayed sharp in practice and came on site every day to sign in as alternates. Their effort was rewarded when Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo withdrew to open up a spot.

Two weeks later, Kenin and Mattek-Sands are Miami Open champions. On Sunday, the Americans came back from a set down to edge No.2 seeds Gabriela Dabrowski and Erin Routliffe 4-6, 7-6(5), [11-9].

“I think you have to trust your own instincts in order for luck to happen, to go on your side,” Kenin told WTA Insider after the win.

Mattek-Sands’ philosophy regarding luck revolves around controlling how you respond when things don’t go your way.

“Obviously we were bummed when we saw the draw and we weren’t in, but at some point you got to let that go and be like, the universe has my back,” Mattek-Sands said. “I’m going to step forward through that, I’m going to go through my same routines and I think that’s more how you create your luck. You don’t let the bad luck get to you and change how you go about your day, change how you think about yourself and change what you think about the world around you. And if you can sort of keep that, you’ll have all the luck in the world.”

Reacting positively to adversity is how Kenin and Mattek-Sands won the title. After knocking out top seeds Hsieh Su-Wei and Elise Mertens in the quarterfinals, their tournament nearly ended in a retirement just three games into their semifinal clash against Sara Errani and Jasmine Paolini. Mattek-Sands made a move for a ball and came up limping. She struggled to put weight on her left foot for much of the match.

They found a way to win, beating the Italians in a match-tiebreak, but there were no assurances Mattek-Sands would be fit to play the final on Sunday. She spent her entire Saturday getting treatment and hoping her body would hold up for one more match.

“I felt very grateful to be playing in a beautiful stadium,” Mattek-Sands said. “It was beautiful day today. I’ve learned to appreciate moving at that pace rather than trying to rush through everything and make it happen. And I think that really has a lot to do with creating your own luck, too.”

Kenin and Mattek-Sands are one of just two teams to have won multiple titles this season. Their success has put them in the mix to grab one of the two doubles spots on the U.S. Olympic Team this summer.

“I am aware,” Kenin said, “but if I thought about it, it would’ve been really bad today.”

With the deep American bench, which not only includes Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula, but also Nicole Melichar-Martinez, Taylor Townsend and Desirae Krawczyk. It will all be decided over the next two months on the clay.

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Mattek-Sands is an Olympic veteran, having taken home a gold medal in Mixed Doubles at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

“It was a great tournament in the fact that we played a lot of champions,” Mattek-Sands said. “We played the Australian Open Champions, we played the Australian Open finalists, we played the US Open champs. We’re showing teams, if they didn’t already know, that we’re competing with the best out there and that’s kind of all that’s in our control. But of course, to say it’s not on the goal list would be a lie.

“At the end of the day, it’s just chiseling away at these wins like we did today, and the last couple weeks. That would ultimately put us in a position to be selected by Team USA.”

The competition has been fierce on the doubles circuit this year. No singular team has been dominating and the titles have been spread across the table. Asked to put on her commentary hat to dissect the first three months of action, Mattek-Sands highlighted the personalities currently on display.

“I think there’s a lot of interesting teams right now,” Mattek-Sands said. “Su-Wei and Elise are the front runners right now. They’ve been playing really well together. And it’s awesome to see Su-Wei play. I mean, what a legend, the way she plays, the way she sees the court, just her mentality.

“But I think that’s what makes doubles really interesting. You get to see more of the personalities because there’s interaction within the teams. That’s what I want for people when they come to watch doubles. Even for Gaby and Erin, they suit each other really well. Their personalities are a little yin and yang and it makes them a great team. I think if you went down the list you would see a lot of those dynamics.

“So I’m hoping with the storytelling, we’re not only playing great tennis, we actually have a decent amount of winners of tournaments. There’s just there’s a lot going on.”

Source: https://www.wtatennis.com/news/3948371/from-alternates-to-champs-kenin-mattek-sands-make-their-own-luck-in-miami

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