MELBOURNE, Australia - Timea Babos will have a chance to add the Australian Open mixed doubles title to the women's doubles trophy she lifted earlier today after she and partner Rohan Bopanna defeated the unseeded duo of María José Martínez Sánchez and Marcelo Demoliner, 7-5, 5-7, [10-6] in the second semifinal.
The No.5 seeds will meet No.8 seeds Gabriela Dabrowski and Mate Pavic in the final, after the Canadian-Croatian pair put on a dazzling display of doubles tennis to upend No.3 seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Bruno Soares, 6-1, 6-4.
The MVP of the first semifinal was undoubtedly Dabrowski. The 25-year-old could do little wrong as she conjured up pinpoint lobs, hammered fierce forehands and swarmed the net at every opportunity to brush deftly angled volleys across the court.
It was the perfect foil to her partner's power: Pavic was untouchable on serve, losing just six points behind his delivery, and decisive at net when putting points away.
Their Russian-Brazilian opponents, however, were slower out of the blocks. Makarova, fresh off a loss in the women's doubles final to Babos and Kristina Mladenovic, committed backhand errors on the first two break points her team faced to fall behind 0-4. Though Makarova and Soares improved their serving in the second set, they were unable to break through on any decisive points in return games - while a canny Pavic cross in the seventh game sealed the only break of the set for the lower seeds.
Dabrowski's final opponent will be familiar to her - Rohan Bopanna, with whom she won the Roland Garros mixed doubles trophy last year, the only Slam title so far for either of the erstwhile partnership. The Indian veteran was in fine form in a much closer second semifinal, sharp at net and solid on serve in the opening set; and, though he and Babos let a 4-1 lead slip back to level pegging, a netted Martínez Sánchez slice sealed the set with another break in the 10th game.
The Spanish-Brazilian duo, who were both seeking their maiden Slam final in any senior discipline, raised their game in the second set, with Martínez Sánchez in particular displaying impeccable finesse at times. At 5-5, it was the seeded pair who blinked: Babos hammered her partner in the back with a forehand to go down break points, and promptly double faulted. Though the Hungarian's power would fend off two set points as Martínez Sánchez tried to serve the set out, her third attempt to drill through her opponents resulted in a backhand just wide - and a match tiebreak.
There, Babos and Bopanna dominated. The sheer force of Babos's backhand was too much for Demoliner at net on two points, while Bopanna was effective from all corners of the court: rushing the net to guide volleys into the open space, pounding forehands from the baseline to both sides, and finally sealing victory with another unreturnable serve out wide.
Having won her first Slam title earlier in the day, Babos has the chance to double her tally immediately tomorrow - while one of former partners Dabrowski and Bopanna will capture their second. Pavic, meanwhile, has the chance to play for his second and third Slam trophies this weekend: the 2016 US Open mixed doubles champion (with Laura Siegemund) is also in the men's doubles final with partner Oliver Marach.