Saving a set point in the first set, Barbora Krejcikova and Rajeev Ram ended the fairytale run of home favorites Astra Sharma and John-Patrick Smith in straight sets to become the Australian Open mixed doubles champions.
Alex Macpherson
January 26, 2019

MELBOURNE, Australia - No.3 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Rajeev Ram captured their first major title as a team with a 7-6(3), 6-1 defeat of wildcards Astra Sharma and John-Patrick Smith in the Australian Open mixed doubles final.

It is the third Grand Slam trophy for Krejcikova, who is also the reigning Roland Garros and Wimbledon doubles champion with Katerina Siniakova, and the first for Ram. Partnering CoCo Vandeweghe, the American had previously been the 2016 US Open mixed doubles runner-up to Laura Siegemund and Mate Pavic.

The seeded duo began strongly, breaking Smith and hitting their spots to move into a 3-1 lead. But the Australian pair, who have delighted crowds all fortnight with their fairytale run, hit back with some of the swashbuckling tennis that had brought them this far. With Sharma hitting freely from the baseline and Smith sharp at net, they broke the Ram serve and won five consecutive deciding points to go up 6-5.

Serving to stay in the set, Krejcikova double faulted to bring up a sixth deciding point - that was also a set point. But for the first time, it would go her team's way as the Czech came up with a strong second serve to force the tiebreak.

From there, Krejcikova and Ram would take control. Their strategy was to target Sharma at the baseline relentlessly, and although the 23-year-old stuck in several extended rallies valiantly, the Czech-American team would end up breaking down her forehand more often than not. On Krejcikova and Ram's first set point of their own, it was that wing that went wide for Sharma.

It was the Smith service that proved mosre vulnerable over the course of the match, though. Having conceded it once in the first set, the 30-year-old sent a forehand into the net to drop it once more to fall behind 0-2 in the second.

Though Ram had been forced to fend off a break point at the start of the second set with a smash, thereafter neither he nor Krejcikova would be troubled on serve. In the sixth game, they targeted the Smith delivery again, Krejcikova coming up with a brilliant lob before Sharma conceded the deciding point as a volley sailed wide. The doubles World No.2, who had been the most efficient server on court throughout, then closed out the match in style, striking a backhand crosscourt winner to seal the title on her second championship point.