MELBOURNE, Australia – Wildcards Astra Sharma and John-Patrick Smith won a late-night duel with Iga Swiatek and Lukasz Kubot, 6-3, 7-6(4), [10-4] to progress into the semifinals of the Australian Open Mixed Doubles.
Going on at around 00:20 local time, the goal of both pairings was to set up a final-four showdown with Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray, who had earlier dispatched Zheng Shuai and Joran Vliegen, 6-3, 6-4.
Break points were scattered throughout the first set as both teams showed a capacity to make inroads on their opponents’ serve, though it was the more experienced duo of Swiatek and Kubot who showed a greater capacity to take these chances.
Indeed, after fending off such a situation created by the home wildcard duo, they moved ahead in the third game after racing into a 0-40 advantage. Although the Australian couple hit back, further breaks followed in games seven as nine.
Sharma and Smith did not face a single break point for the duration of the second, but an inability to convert any of the six they had, including three in succession in back-to-back games in the middle part of the set, meant that a tiebreak was required.
Swiatek and Kubot moved to within three points of victory at 4-2, though the home pair rallied impressively to win the last five points and send the match into a super tiebreak.
They maintained their momentum into the shootout, winning all of the first five points on their opponents’ serve en route to fashioning an 8-2 advantage. Although the European couple stopped the rot by finally holding a point on serve, the end was inevitable as the home pairing sealed the match after one hour 45 minutes.
Mattek-Sands and Murray had previously enjoyed more serene progress in a 6-3, 6-4 win that last exactly 80 minutes.
The two-time US Open champions broke twice to seal the opening set but had a more difficult time in the second, in which they faced four break points and successfully batted off each of them.
The sole break arrived in the third game, which was one of four in the set that ran to a decisive point on deuce. The other three occasions arrived in the last three games of the match, setting up a tense finale in which the American-British duo missed three match points before eventually prevailing.