The mixed doubles team of India’s star tennis players Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna came up with a strong win in the opening round at the Australian Open on Saturday.
The Indian duo took an hour and 14 minutes to beat Australian wild cards Jaimee Fourlis and Luke Saville 7-5, 6-3 on Court 7.
Earlier on the same court, the team of N Sriram Balaji and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, alternates in the men’s doubles draw, came up with an upset win over fifth seeds Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek 7-6(6), 2-6, 6-4.
In the mixed doubles match, the Indian veterans did not get off to a bright start after Mirza’s serve was broken in her first game for the Australians to go up 3-1. But Mirza-Bopanna came back immediately to break Saville’s serve in the next game.
The telling break came later in the 11th game, when Fourlis’ serve was broken and Mirza then served out the set.
In the second set, the Indians started to flex their muscles. After being down 2-3 on serve, Mirza and Bopanna broke both Fourlis and Saville’s serves, winning four games on the trot to secure a spot in the second round.
Mirza, who is playing her final Major event, is still active in the women’s doubles draw too.
In the earlier match, the duo of Balaji and Jeevan were eighth-alternates at the Australian Open but managed to gain entry into the main draw. They were coming up against a team that included a six-time Grand Slam champion in Dodig, and last year’s French Open finalist in Krajicek.
They trailed early after Jeevan’s serve was broken in the third game, but they levelled proceedings by breaking back in the sixth game. They then held on and took the first set in the tiebreak.
The fifth seeds bounced back with a better showing in the second set to take the match into the decider.
The Indian team then made their move in the seventh game, breaking Dodig’s serve and then held on with Balaji serving out the match at love. The Balaji-Jeevan duo are the only men’s doubles team at the Major, among four teams involving Indians, to have made it to the second round.
They will next take on the all-French duo of Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin.