Mladenovic & Nestor Win The Mixed
Published January 26, 2014 12:15
The French-Canadian duo didn't drop a set en route to the final and continued that trend again, taking out No.6 seeds Sania Mirza and Horia Tecau for the title, 63 62. They fought off all five break points they faced and broke their opponents four times - and while both teams had positive winners-to-unforced errors ratios, Mladenovic and Nestor were a better 24-14 (Mirza and Tecau were 14-8).
"We knew Sania has a big forehand, so we tried to keep it away from having her get comfortable in a crosscourt rally with it," Nestor said. "I think we did a good job of returning Horia's serve, putting some pressure on him, and he probably didn't return as well in the match today as he normally does."
Nestor also gave props to Mladenovic for something else that's critical in mixed doubles.
"She's very good at returning the men's serve," Nestor said of Mladenovic. "I'm sure a lot of girls aren't afraid to return the men's serve out there, but whether they're able to do it is another story."
"The first thing is not to be afraid of returning the men's serve, because obviously it's going really fast," Mladenovic commented. "And the second thing is that I like the challenge. I like going for it and trying to return it. They get crazy when the return comes back or even comes back as a winner."
Whatever their strengths or weaknesses, what they're doing is working. Mladenovic and Nestor have now played the last four Grand Slams together and have put together a 17-2 record - finals of the French Open, champions at Wimbledon, semifinals at the US Open and now champions in Oz.
Mladenovic has been approached by other players before, but maintains Nestor is her go-to guy.
"Daniel is the first and only partner for me," Mladenovic said. "I think it's tough to do better.
"At the beginning, I didn't know many men's doubles players on tour. It started with Robert Lindstedt - another French player introduced me to him. I asked him once if he wanted to play, I think last year before the French Open, but he was busy, so I gave up. Then he told me that his partner, who was Danny at the time, was free. I was shy to ask Daniel if he would play; a few days later he came and asked me. I was like, 'Of course we'll play.' For me it was a huge thing that Danny asked me to play.
"Now that we're starting to get good results, a few players are asking me when he's going to retire!"
"Who are they - he wants to know," Nestor said.
"Well, all the men's doubles specialists," Mladenovic said. "Robert, Kubot asked me, Qureshi..."
"They ask when I'll retire or they just ask you to play?" Nestor added.
"I tell them no, I'm playing with Danny forever now," Mladenovic replied. "They say, 'Okay, we can play once he stops. We hope it's going to be soon.' Pretty much all the teams we beat joke about it!"