AO doubles wrap: Ram wins mixed doubles title
Thirty-four-year-old Rajeev Ram is a Grand Slam champion for the first time in his 16-year career, after teaming with Barbora Krejcikova to win the Australian Open mixed doubles title.
The No. 3-seeded champions defeated the Australian wild-card duo of John-Patrick Smith and Astra Sharma, 7-6, 6-1, in Rod Laver Arena on Saturday for the title.
After winning third-set match tiebreakers in their opening two rounds, including dismissing Aussie Open men’s doubles finalist Nicolas Mahut and partner Timea Bacsinszky in Round 1, Ram and Krejcikova did not drop a set in their last three matches. They entered the final full of confidence, on the heels of a 6-2, 7-5 quarterfinal victory over Robert Farah and Anna-Lena Gronefeld and a 6-0, 6-4 semifinal success against Neal Skupski and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, and rode that momentum all the way to the title.
Ram, who entered the Australian Open as the No. 22-ranked doubles player in the ATP World Rankings, has been ranked as high as No. 11 in doubles and No. 56 in singles during his career. He had previously reached one major final – at the 2016 US Open, with CoCo Vandeweghe – and teamed with Venus Williams to win mixed doubles gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He is also a two-time Slam semifinalist in men’s doubles, having reached the last four at the US Open in 2014 (with American Scott Lipsky) and Wimbledon in 2016 (with Raven Klaasen).
The American also reached the last 16 of the 2019 Melbourne men’s doubles competition, partnering with Joe Salisbury of Great Britain. The No. 11 seeds took the opening set against Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert, ultimately falling, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4, to the French finalists.
Also in men’s doubles action, Davis Cup teammates Ryan Harrison and Sam Querrey reached the semifinals before falling to the No. 5-seeded pairing of Mahut and Herbert. The Frenchman also thwarted the first Grand Slam campaign of Bob and Mike Bryan since they rejoined forces in 2019, taking out the twins in the quarterfinals.
In women’s doubles action, Jennifer Brady and Alison Riske teamed up to reach the semifinals. The unseeded Americans dismissed the No. 4 seeds, Nicole Melichar and Kveta Peschke, in the Round of 16 and the No. 7 seeds, Hao-Ching Chan and Latisha Chan, in the quarterfinals. They finally met their match in the last four, against the second-seeded duo of Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic.
In mixed doubles play, Ram was not the only American in the late rounds. Nicole Melichar teamed with Bruno Soares to reach the semifinals as the No. 2-seeded tandem, while Bethanie Mattek-Sands partnered with Jamie Murray to reach the last eight. Both teams were knocked out in straight sets by Smith and Sharma, but Ram and Krejcikova returned the favor in the final, as Ram became the lone American champion at the 2019 Australian Open.