MELBOURNE, Australia - No.3 seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Bruno Soares are through to the mixed doubles semifinals at the Australian Open after needing a dramatic match tiebreak to edge past No.6 seeds Andrea Sestini Hlavackova and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, 6-2, 4-6, 13-11.
Makarova and Soares needed to save three match points in the tiebreak - including a bizarre fault at the net from their opponents - to stay alive in the Australian Open.
“I think we just got lucky in the end because we both did such a great match,” Makarova said in their post-match interview. “They were playing very well, they had the match points - yeah, we were lucky! But here we are, just happy to be through.”
They had their work cut out for them against the No.6 seeds, despite notching a comfortable opening set in which they broke the Sestini Hlavackova serve twice to earn a double break lead. Makarova’s smart poaching and slicing at the net complemented Soares’ powerful serving to dominate the early exchanges.
The momentum shifted in the second set, however, after Sestini Hlavackova ground out a crucial service hold just as Soares’ unforced error count began to grow, and the No.6 seeds were right back in it after grabbing the lone break to send them into a match tiebreak.
Makarova and Soares grabbed an early lead to open up a 5-2 gap, but their opponents worked their way back in to level at 6-6, with Sestini Hlavackova jamming Soares at the net with a vicious volley.
Sestini Hlavackova and Roger-Vasselin were the first to reach match points at 9-8, and a short lob sat up invitingly waiting to be smashed to close out the victory. Both players rushed the net for the overhead, but - just as the Frenchman hit the unreturnable shot - Sestini Hlavackova’s racquet touched the net, resulting in a point penalty.
The No.6 seeds held two more match points afterward but couldn’t manage to recover from their previous blunder at the net as Makarova and Soares kept coming back. The No.3 seeds finally closed out the match after a hard-fought hour and 23 minutes on court.
“For sure we played another great match,” Soares added. “We’ve had a lot of battles here already, played so many tiebreakers. Close, but still alive. We’re happy with that - and for one more tomorrow.”
Through to the semifinals, Makarova and Soares will face the winners between No.8 seeded team of Gabriela Dabrowski and Mate Pavic or Johanna Larsson and Matwe Middelkoop.
Also joining them in the semifinals are Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and Marcelo Demoliner, who edged past the all-Aussie tandem of Storm Sanders and Marc Polmans, 7-5,6-4. They’re set to face the No.5 seeds Timea Babos and Rohan Bopanna.