As a nor’easter swept through the Connecticut coast Monday night, so too did the Manek Mathur & Damien Mudge storm system as they earned their fifth SDA title of the season—the SDA Platinum Chilton Investments North American Open at the Field Club of Greenwich, Greenwich Country Club and Round Hill Club.
Mathur, world No. 1, & Mudge, world No. 3, have now won five consecutive titles this season with only one loss together in the final of September’s Maryland Club Open. Mudge, the all-time NAO title holder, augments his record with his fourteenth, while Mathur marks his second consecutive title.
The Mathur & Mudge storm gathered strength after the first two rounds that saw the top seeds drop the first games 15-14 in both the round of sixteen and quarterfinals against qualifiers. In their opener, Mathur & Mudge came back against Cornell alum William Hartigan and former PSA player Clinton Leeuw to reach the quarterfinals. In what was one of just two main draw upsets, qualifiers James Bamber & Robert Burns took out Imran Khan & Greg Park in five games to set up an encounter with the top seeds. In the quarters, the qualifiers nipped the first game 15-14, but Mathur & Mudge recovered to advance to the semifinals in four.
The other major main draw upset came in the bottom half of the draw where Raj Nanda & Clive Leach knocked out two seeds Mike Ferreira & Yvain Badan 15-13 in the fifth to reach the semifinals against three seeds John Russell & Viktor Berg, who also endured a five-game quarterfinal against last weekend’s MAC champions Bernardo Samper & Baset Chaudhry. The ensuing semifinal appropriately went the distance with Russell & Berg clinching a spot in the final 15-11 in the fifth.
After the first two rounds, Mathur & Mudge steadied the ship to produce two dominant three-game victories in both the semifinals against four seeds Matt Jenson & Scott Arnold and in the final against Russell & Berg, 15-3, 15-9, 15-8.
“We definitely started off a little rusty, but all credit to those guys for coming out hot and hungry to play,” Mathur said. “Hartigan & Leeuw are great squash players and even better athletes. They did a good job about playing the long points well and keeping the pressure high. Burns & Bamber were feeling good from their win the previous day and came into the match extremely confident hitting the ball and angles well.”
“The first couple of rounds we started off a little slow and those teams played well,” Mudge added. “When the semifinals hit we were very focused and determined to play well.”
As they did in Boston just two weeks ago, Mudge augments his NAO title record with his fourteenth, while Mathur marks his second consecutive title.
“Having fourteen NAO titles is very special and to win with Manek feels amazing,” Mudge said of his record. “I can’t quite wrap my mind around it. I guess it shows how long I’ve been on tour. The NAO is a very special event. I feel lucky just to be involved with the tournament given the history that is associated with it. It’s one of my favorite events of the year.”
The NAO dates back to 1931 with Mudge’s record spanning seventeen years, 2000-2017, and four partners: seven with Gary Waite, two with Viktor Berg, four with Ben Gould and one with Mathur.
“The NAO is a very special event and arguably one of the most prestigious titles to win.,” Mathur said. “I am humbled to have my name on that trophy twice with two different partners and be part of the events rich history. Steve, Liam and Rod did a tremendous job with the organization of the event and taking extremely good care of the pros.”
“The Greenwich/Rye community is where doubles began for me and to win a title at the FCG where my journey began was amazing,” Mathur added. “It’s a first class new facility and I am excited to see that program grow to new heights. I would also like to thank all the patrons, sponsors and pro-am players for making this event a success. Without the support of Lexington Partners, Chilton, Harrow etc. this event would not be possible.”
Mathur & Mudge will sit out the Baltimore Cup before aiming for a sixth title of the season next month in Brooklyn at the David C. Johnson Memorial.
Watch North American Open replays below: