MELBOURNE, Australia - Unseeded Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray advanced to their third Grand Slam final as a pair with a 6-3, 7-6(4) victory over wildcards Astra Sharma and John-Patrick Smith in the Australian Open semifinals.
For the second straight year, the major champions squared off against the Australians in the final four of the tournament, but after losing a 6-2, 7-6(5) quarterfinal match last year, the decorated pair did not suffer the same fate this year.
"Melbourne has really good memories for me, because this is where I got my first Grand Slam title back in the day," Mattek-Sands said after the match. "It's always fun playing with [Jamie] and I'm pumped for the final."
Mattek-Sands and Murray were nearly perfect on serve over the course of 82 minutes in Friday's semifinal, losing just four points in five service games in the first set, and never facing break point over their first five service games in the second.
After breaking Sharma for a second time overall at 5-5, the American and Brit were pegged back into a second-set tiebreak by last year's Cinderella runners-up, but sprinted out to a 6-1 lead and eventually sealed the win on their first match point.
"We lost to them last year in a tough match. We had the bit between our teeth today and we wanted a bit of revenge," Murray added.
"The chance to get to the final - there was a lot on the line, and we're looking forward to the final tomorrow night."
The duo will face No.5 seeds Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic and Nikola Mektic of Croatia for the title, after they rallied from a set down to beat No.3 seeds Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada and Henri Kontinen of Finland, 3-6, 6-3, 10-5.
"The was my 14th match here this year, and I'm super happy that we're in the finals together," Krejcikova said on-court after the victory.
"It's always a pleasure to play here on this court. It's a big thanks to Nikola for playing with me, because without him, I wouldn't be here.
"[The final] is just going to be another hard match, the same as we had today. I'm just looking forward to showing up tomorrow, and just playing the best match we can."
Finals of mixed at @AustralianOpen! Thank you so much partner @NMektic. Im looking forward to my 15th and final match at this #AO2020 on saturday. Lets go and have fun 🎾🇭🇷🇨🇿😎😍🍀🦘🐨💚💛🙈💪🏻👍🏻💋 https://t.co/1BJCrm5hl3— Barbora Krejcikova (@B_Krejcikova) January 31, 2020
After losing the first three games of the match en route to falling behind by a set, the No.5 seeds never trailed in the semifinal match again.
They kept the pressure on Dabrowski, herself the mixed champion in Melbourne in 2018 with Mate Pavic, and Kontinen by holding serve for the duration of the set, and scored the decisive break in the eighth game.
With her second consecutive appearance in the mixed doubles final, Krejcikova has found herself at the business end of a third week in Melbourne. The 24-year-old qualified and reached the second round in singles, for her best-ever singles Slam result, and also lost in the semifinals of the women's doubles event with Katerina Siniakova.
"I told her [after the first set] that we just had to keep going, because even though we lost 6-3, I didn't think we were the worst team on the court," Mektic added.
"She was feeling a little bit tired, which is normal after so many matches, but I told her...I think we have a chance, and in the end, we were lucky to take it."
Krejcikova seeks her second consecutive mixed title Down Under, having won the title with Rajeev Ram a year ago, while Mattek-Sands looks to add a fifth overall mixed Slam to her collection.
The American won the 2012 tournament in Melbourne alongside Horia Tecau, the 2015 French Open with Mike Bryan, and the last two US Opens alongside Murray.