Sania Mirza, in the final Grand Slam of her career, alongside compatriot Rohan Bopanna, reached the final of the mixed doubles event after defeating the third-seeded pairing of England’s Neal Skupski and United States’ Desirae Krawczyk 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5), (10-6).
After showing steely resolve to serve out a first set, and win it in a nervy tiebreaker. It was well into the second set, one full of twists and turns, when the nerves were on show.
After getting an early break, Bopanna’s usually reliable serve was broken after he made two uncharacteristic forehand unforced errors. Some solid net play and returning from Sania got them the break back immediately, but they were put under pressure right after. Sania ended up hitting a double fault on break point to hand the Brit-American partnership a route back into the match again.
It was then the opposition’s turn to crumble under pressure. Krawczyk, unable to make too many first serves, lost her service game to love after both Sania and Bopanna crushed a couple of return winners into her court.
Sania later served for the match, but looked nervy again, and put in a double fault early. The Indian pair held match point, which was saved by a crushing forehand from Skupski. The next point, on deuce – which is a one-point break/game point in the doubles at the Australian Open – Bopanna netted a volley to give the break back.
In the second-set tiebreaker, however, the third seeds showed their experience and clutch play, returning with ferocity and playing big shots from the baseline to put the Indian duo under pressure and steal the tiebreaker 7-5, after being 3-5 down.
In the deciding set, a ten-point tiebreaker in the doubles event at the Australian Open, Sania and Bopanna raced to a five-point lead, and held their serve from their on to round out the breaker 10-6 and race into the final.
The Sania-Bopanna partnership, in their final outing, will play their very first Grand Slam final. Most notably the duo reached the semifinal at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Mirza is a two-time Australian Open champion, having won the mixed doubles event alongside Mahesh Bhupathi in 2009, and the women’s doubles event alongside Martina Hingis in 2016. Bopanna, on the other hand, has never won in Melbourne but did reach the mixed doubles final in 2018 alongside Timea Babos.
They await the winner between the Brazilian pairing of Rafael Matos and Luisa Stefani, and the Australian pairing of Olivia Gadecki and Marc Polmans, in the other semifinal.