MELBOURNE, Australia - Abigail Spears helped pull off the last surprise of a thrilling 2017 Australian Open Championships, partnering Juan Sebastian Cabal to shock No.2 seed Sania Mirza and Ivan Dodig, 6-2, 6-4, to win the mixed doubles crown.
Spears announced plans to retire at the end of 2017, and couldn't think of a better way to cap her career than with Cabal.
"It felt amazing playing with Juan," she said in their post-match press conference. "I wish I could have fun like that every day.
"I think it's my last [season], but I guess everybody says that and then they reconsider at some point. If not, I think I would finish here next year. This is my favorite tournament. I have so many friends here. I might finish in Australia, then that would be the end."
Mirza had last won mixed doubles in Melbourne back in 2009 with countryman Mahesh Bhupati, and was looking for her first major title with Dodig, with whom she was in her second final.
But it was third time lucky for Spears, who had fallen in back-to-back US Open mixed finals with Santiago Gonzalez, and who earned her maiden major victory in Melbourne, hitting 23 winners to just nine errors to win in 63 minutes. The American was playing just her second major tournament with the Colombian veteran.
"I think a lot goes into every day," she said of their partnership. "Every day is different. I think all the variables just went our way. I mean, you can't play well every day. This match was cleaner. I think the last match was maybe not as clean. But Juan keeps me loose. I don't know.
"I don't know what it takes every match, but we got lucky I think. Every match we just had fun and it just went our way."
The win has made Spears reconsider her retirement date, but believes a title defense in Melbourne would be a more proper way to bid farewell to the sport - though she teased the possibility of playing further into 2018.
"If I can keep my ranking up, I would finish here next year. This would be my last tournament next year. I would not play any other tournaments next year.
"Famous last words."
? #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 29, 2017