MELBOURNE, Australia - For the second year running, Barbora Krejcikova leaves the Australian Open as one half of the winning mixed doubles pair -- but now, with a different partner in tow.
Last year, the Czech won her first mixed major title Down Under alongside American Rajeev Ram, but 12 months later, she and Croatia's Nikola Mektic ran the table to win their first trophy together at Melbourne Park on Saturday.
The No.5 seeds in the mixed doubles draw, Krejcikova and Mektic rallied from a set down to beat the decorated, but unseeded, pairing of Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray in a match tiebreak, 5-7, 6-4, 10-1, inside Rod Laver Arena.
"The partnership, it was very fortunate because I was looking for a partner," Krejcikova revealed after the match.
"I was about to play with Rajeev Ram again. He had some problems during the off-season, so he just said that he's not going to play. I was looking for a partner.
"I had Nikola's number in my phone. I just wrote him a text message. In five minutes, I got the response back. He was just so happy to play. I'm like, 'Yeah, let's go and try to win the title.'
"A month later we're having this trophy. I cannot believe it. I'm just so happy. I have to thank Nikola so much because so many matches he was just playing so great, especially today. Without him, I wouldn't be able to reach the title."
🏆🏆@B_Krejcikova/@NMektic capture a first team Grand Slam title defeating Mattek-Sands/Murray 5-7 6-4 [10-1].— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) February 1, 2020
Krejcikova successfully defends her mixed doubles crown while Mektic wins a maiden Slam trophy.#AusOpen | #AO2020 pic.twitter.com/42zPrUfjaY
The Czech and Croatian pairing led 5-3 in the opener but never held a set point, and ultimately needed to hold off another comeback effort from the two-time US Open mixed champions before dominating in the ensuing match tiebreak.
After failing to convert a set point on Krejcikova's serve in the seventh game, the seeded duo held emphatically behind Mektic's effort to send the match the distance.
The two teams traded mini-breaks of serve on two of the first three points, but from there, it was all to the No.5 seeds, who claimed the last eight points to seal the championship.
"10-1, it's unbelievable when you see the score. Definitely, it wasn't so easy. Every point was very stressful, obviously [in the] finals," Mektic said. "In the end, somehow we were much better. Luckily, we won 10-1.
"I think we understood each other from the beginning. We adjusted well for our game. Barbora is really nice person. The energy was very nice. We had no problems in communication. That was also I think the key."
The victory closed out a marathon three weeks for the Czech player, who competed in all three disciplines at the Australian Open and played 15 matches in total.
She qualified for her second career Grand Slam main draw in singles, beating former Top 20 player Kaia Kanepi in the first round, and also reached the semifinals in women's doubles with Katerina Siniakova.
Mektic, who won his first major of any kind with the victory, lauded his partner's endurance after the victory.
"I told her many times that I'm really, really happy and really amazed how she could do it," the Croatian said. "And thanks that she went on the court, that she wasn't feeling great. There were matches where she was really tired; her leg was not perfect, but somehow she came out and we did it."