MELBOURNE, Australia - No.3 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Rajeev Ram battled through a scintillating match tiebreak to overcome Timea Bacsinszky and Nicolas Mahut 1-6, 6-2, [10-6] and make the second round of the mixed doubles competition at the Australian Open.
The unseeded Swiss-French pair roared out of the gates, breaking Ram twice and proving particularly sharp on 30-30 and deciding points - but the doubles World No.2 and her partner hit back to break Bacsinszky twice to level the scoreline, with Ram emphatically putting a smash away to clinch the set.
Despite Bacsinszky showing off some wondrous touch and reflexes, the Czech-American duo were watertight in the deciding tiebreak. Throughout the second and third sets, Krejcikova had been adept at using careful placement to set up Ram's powerful finishing shots, and the latter's quick moves at net to put away smashes and angled volleys were crucial in taking the lead. But on their first match point, it was Krejcikova who seized the opportunity to nail an overhead to take victory.
Krejcikova and Ram were joined in the second round by No.1 seeds Gabriela Dabrowski and Mate Pavic. The defending champions took just 56 minutes to dismiss wildcards Priscilla Hon and Alexei Popyrin 6-3, 6-3 and set up a second round clash against Chan Hao-Ching and Jean-Julien Rojer.
US Open champions Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray also progressed, albeit in unfortunate circumstances. Opponents and No.4 seeds Mihaela Buzarnescu and Oliver Marach collided while attempting to retrieve a volley in the second game, with Marach suffering an ankle injury as a result. The Romanian-Austrian pair were forced to retire three games later trailing 4-1, while Mattek-Sands and Murray move on to face Kristina Mladenovic and Robert Lindstedt - who had defeated Johanna Larsson and Dominic Inglot 6-2, 6-2 in a contest highlighted by a Mladenovic tweener.
Elsewhere, No.2 seeds Nicole Melichar and Bruno Soares defeated Irina-Camelia Begu and Horia Tecau 6-1, 6-3 - while the intriguing Polish wildcard pair of 17-year-old Slam debutante Iga Swiatek and two-time Slam champion Lukasz Kubot came through a match tiebreak to overcome Alicja Rosolska and Nikola Mektic 6-1, 2-6, [10-5]. Swiatek and Kubot will now face the stern test of Krejcikova and Ram.