Melbourne | Krejcikova and Ram lift Mixed Doubles trophy
Australian wildcards Astra Sharma and John-Patrick Smith fell short in the Australian Open mixed doubles final to Barbora Krejcikova and Rajeev Ram, who lifted the trophy.
My partner is pretty good – her ranking is No 1 in the world, so it’s quite an honour to play with her, and for her to carry me to the title. Rajeev Ram
The wildcard entries enjoyed a stellar fortnight at Melbourne Park but were outplayed in the decider on Saturday night, losing 7-6(3) 6-1 to third seeds Krejcikova and Ram.
Sharma and Smith held a set point in the first set but were unable to stop the Czech-American pairing from running away with the match.
“It’s been a phenomenal week. Not only just going deep in the Slam … we had a great environment out there and a great challenge in front of us today,” Smith said.
“And we came up short, but the good news is, she’s got so many more years left on the tour and for me it’s just about getting more experience on these big stages, which I did this week.”
Sharma and Smith were open to competing together again at upcoming Grand Slam tournaments.
“It’s just been an incredible experience and if I can get my ranking high enough I’d definitely love to play with JP again and get that partnership working again,” Sharma said.
Krejcikova and Ram saved a set point in the opener before running away with the contest in the second set, closing out a comfortable victory in an hour, 12 minutes.
“My partner is pretty good – her ranking is No 1 in the world, so it’s quite an honour to play with her, and for her to carry me to the title,” Ram said, to which Krejcikova replied: “Thanks for texting me at the beginning, so we could play.”
Ram continued: “To our opponents today, JP and Astra: I think it took me 65 Grand Slams to reach my first final, and 75 to reach my second, which was today, so for you to do it in your first, that’s quite impressive.
“She’s going to be a big star in Australian tennis. And JP, we go back along way – great match, and a great week for you.”
At 34 years of age, Ram claimed his first Grand Slam title in his second mixed doubles final, having lost the 2016 US Open decider alongside Coco Vandeweghe.
For 23-year-old Krejcikova this is her third, following hot on the heels of her women’s doubles triumphs with Katerina Siniakova at Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2018.
Krejcikova’s victory makes her the first Czech player to lift the mixed doubles trophy at Melbourne Park since the late Jana Novotna, who defended her mixed title 30 years ago alongside partner Jim Pugh.
With the match starting shortly after 11pm following Naomi Osaka’s triumph in the women’s singles final, Krejcikova and Ram made the perfect start to the match, breaking in the opening game as Sharma and Smith showed some early nerves.
The Aussies soon struck their rhythm, showcasing some of the gung-ho net play that saw them stun No 2 seeds Nicole Melichar and Bruno Soares in the semi-finals to break back at 3-3.
It might have been even better for the wildcards, had Krejcikova not served her way out of trouble at 5-6.
Smith pushed the game to deuce, which in mixed doubles is a single deciding point, but Sharma overcooked her return to send the set into a tiebreak.
From there, Krejcikova and Ram took control, exposing Smith and Sharma’s inexperience with some savvy defensive doubles.
Time and again they backed off before picking apart the Aussie duo with passes and lobs to break twice before sealing victory on their second match point.
“Congrats to Rajeev and Barbora,” Sharma said. “It was an honour to be on the court with you guys.
“Secondly, thank you JP. He’s been amazing the whole tournament, on and off the court, and brought out the best in me.”