MELBOURNE, Australia – Wildcards Astra Sharma and John-Patrick Smith continued their dream Australian Open run to make the final of the mixed doubles competition thanks to a 6-4, 7-6(5) victory over No.2 seeds Nicole Melichar and Bruno Soares.
The home pairing produced a stunning upset against Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray on Wednesday and replicated that against the British player’s doubles partner barely 24 hours later.
They started in superb form, breaking in the opening game of the match, before holding comfortably twice on their own delivery. There was something of a wobble as they fell 0-30 down in the sixth game but they succeeded in salvaging the situation with four straight points.
Backed by a vocal home crowd, they served out to seal the first set.
The opener had been dominated by serve after the early break, and it proved that the second would be equally so.
Indeed, there was only a solitary break point in the second set, but Melichar and Soares failed to convert. The American-Brazilian pairing was the one doing the pressing, reaching deuce on the Aussies’ next service game, but again they were unable to make headway and the tiebreak quickly became inevitable.
🇦🇺 Aussie, Aussie, Aussie 🇦🇺@jpatsmith and @astrasharma are one set away from the mixed doubles final, taking the opening set 6-4 against Bruno Soares and Nicole Melichar.#AusOpen pic.twitter.com/FBpVGcCVYk
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 24, 2019
After an hour of almost unremitting control by the servers, there was a dramatic transformation in the breaker. The pairs had a minibreak each as Melichar and Soares served at 3-4, so when they lost both points defeat seemed inevitable. They saved both match points on their opponents’ serve before contriving to succumb on their own delivery.
No.3 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Rajeev Ram lie ahead on the final after they overwhelmed María José Martínez Sánchez and Neal Skupski, 6-0, 6-4.
The opening set took less than half an hour to complete but the second proved to be competitive, with the Czech-Indian combination have life made more difficult for them after winning the first eight games of the match.
Having won through only via a match tiebreak against Iga Swiatek and Lukas Kubot in the second round, they will be aware of just what danger a wildcard pairing can bring to the table.
Sharma and Smith, meanwhile, have yet to drop a set.