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Tennis

Mladenovic, Dodig win Australian Open mixed doubles crown

France’s Kristina Mladenovic and Croatia’s Ivan Dodig were crowned the first champions of the 2022 Australian Open, beating Aussies Jaimee Fourlis and Jason Kubler in the mixed doubles final.

Kristina Mladenovic and Ivan Dodig defeated wildcards Jaimee Fourlis and Jason Kubler 6-3, 6-4 in Friday’s Australian Open mixed doubles championship.

For Mladenovic, it was her second career mixed doubles title. She took home the first of five trophies to be awarded at this year’s event.

The win is Mladenovic’s first mixed major crown in eight years, her third overall and second in Australia. She and Canada’s Daniel Nestor reached consecutive finals Down Under in 2014 and 2015, winning the former. The duo also won Wimbledon in 2013. Mladenovic now boasts eight total Grand Slam titles across women’s and mixed doubles.

“I love to have that feeling to reach the end of the tournament,” she said. “It’s an event where I particularly like, where I had success. “You come on the last day and you have always this adrenaline and pressure. Finals is to win. You don’t want to end up losing just on the very last step.”

How the trophy was won: The eventual champions largely cruised in the 78-minute final, which was a far cry from their previous matches to get there. Dodig and Mladenovic were stretched to a match tiebreak in three of the four matches in the earlier rounds, and notably rallied from a set down to defeat No.2 seeds Zhang Shuai and John Peers in the semifinals, 1-6, 7-5, 10-2.

To their credit, Aussies Fourlis and Kubler were the third wildcard team to reach the mixed doubles championship in Melbourne in the past four years. They too had a thrilling path to the championship. In the opening round, they beat No.7 seeds Nina Stojanovic and Mate Pavic, 3-6, 6-3, 17-15, saving two match points in the match tiebreak and winning on their eighth, and also saved four match points against 2021 finalists Samantha Stosur and John Peers in the second round, 3-6, 7-5, 11-9.

Fourlis and Kubler were the first team to break serve in the first set for a 2-1 lead, but never again led in the set. Dodig and Mladenovic immediately broke back and won five of six games to pocket the opener, and pulled away late in the second. After the two teams traded early breaks, Dodig and Mladenovic won three of the last four games, and capped victory by winning one of the points of the match.

“Ivan is an amazing player all around the court, not just doubles skills, but singles,” Mladenovic said. He had an amazing career, too. He has so much experience. I think he’s a player very accomplished with that all around the court, his strokes.

“His experience for sure helps. I’m a little bit younger and I have also this much experience. Like I said, I played couple of finals. But I also think we match perfectly because I prefer to play on the deuce end, he’s on the ad side. Tennis-wise it’s just great. We complement each other really well.

“What’s the most important as well is off the court we really have the values and spirit. We have great energy with all our team. I think it makes a big difference at the end of the day. I think we have that same mentality, so it’s nice to be on court together.”

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