Shades of 2009 enveloped the Wilmington Country Club this weekend as Damien Mudge & Viktor Berg reunited their 2008 and 2009 championship-winning partnership to defeat top-seeded Manek Mathur & Yvain Badan in a marathon final.
Mudge & Berg, who once topped the SDA rankings as world No. 1’s, entered the eight-team main draw in their first tournament appearance together since the 2009-2010 season.
The two seeds endured a difficult road to the final, however, which began with a tough test against qualifiers and first-time partners Jeff Osborne & Andres Vargas, who managed to take a game off the eventual champions.
The second qualifying partnership, Canadians Fred Reid & Justin Todd, also caused problems in the first round, pushing England’s World Doubles champions John Russell & Clive Leach into five games 15-10, 15-10, 12-15, 13-15, 15-4.
Russell & Leach, the three seeds, perhaps felt the effects of that five-gamer during their semifinal against Mudge & Berg, who advanced 15-8, 15-7, 10-15, 15-10.
For the first time playing in the same draw as Mudge, Trinity Bantams and world No. 3’s Manek Mathur & Yvain Badan were the tournament’s top seeds.
The top seeds reached the semifinals after a three-game victory over Raj Nanda & Imran Khan to set up an all-Trinity semifinal against Colombia’s Bernardo Samper & Mexico’s Antonio Diaz.
Samper & Diaz upset another Bantam, Mike Ferreira, in the first round who was seeded fourth with world No. 11 Chris Callis. The marathon five-game match was one to forget for Ferreira, world No. 7, who tinned at 14-14 in both the fourth and fifth games to set the two sides apart.
As in their first round match, Mathur & Badan cleared their fellow alums in three games to reach the final, and set up their first match against the Mudge & Berg partnership.
A two hour and twenty-minute epic ensued with the top seeds earning a 2-1 advantage after pulling out a close third game 15-7, 11-15, 15-14. Mudge & Berg stepped up to win the fourth 15-13 extending the match to a fifth, which Mudge & Berg pulled out 15-12 to win the title.
Berg was happy to reunite with his former partner, and admitted his improvement in the final helped clinch the title.
“The finals was a difficult test for me,” said Berg, whose most recent title was the $20,000 Missouri Athletic Club Open with John Russell in October.
“The strategy and the game tempo took me some time to get used to, but I did adapt to it and I improved as the match went on. Mudgie executed brilliantly. There were some really long and entertaining rallies, and I think the audience got their money’s worth!”
The 2015 title is the Canadian world No. 8’s third with Mudge in , adding to titles in 2008 and 2009.
Mudge has now won a title in Wilmington ten times since 2001 which have been held under various names including U.S. Pro Doubles, U.S. Open, and Delaware Open since its inception in 1995.
“It was so nice playing with Mudgie,” Berg continued. “He brings the passion and drive that I like being involved with. I love his game.
“I would like to thank Ed Chilton again and all the sponsors for making it a fantastic tournament. Thank you!”
Watch the final and all replays below on the SDA YouTube page.