Krejcikova, Ram Win Mixed Doubles Title, Again

Rajeev Ram and Barbora Krejcikova (photo: Mark Peterson/Tennis Australia)

MELBOURNE/WASHINGTON, February 20, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

It’s a tough act for any mixed doubles team to follow, going on Rod Laver Arena, just after Naomi Osaka won her second Australian Open women’s title. However, Barbora Krejcikova and Rajeev Ram were up to the task. They were grateful for the opportunity to play in front of an enthusiastic crowd on a summer Saturday evening in Melbourne.

They didn’t throw away their shot.

The sixth seeds, Krejcikova from the Czech Republic and Ram of the United States, dominated the Australian wild cards, Samantha Stosur and Matthew Ebden, 6-1, 6-4, in 59 minutes on Rod Laver Arena Saturday evening. It followed Osaka’s shining moment, and won for Krejcikova and Ram the Australian Open mixed doubles title. It was their second mixed doubles crown Down Under in three years.

Krejcikova and Ram won the 2019 Australian Open mixed doubles title. Then, Ram had to skip last year’s Happy Slam due to illness. So, what’s a lonely partner to do? Krejcikova simply went out and won the mixed doubles crown with Croatia’s Nikola Mektic. Now, with Ram back in the fold, the Czech-American duo won five straight matches during the Aussie fortnight and repeated their 2019 success in 2021.

“I’ve got to thank my partner,” Ram said during the trophy presentation. “We had a year off as a team, but she didn’t. Three years running lifting this trophy is an amazing job. It was a pleasure to play with you, always.”

Later, during their virtual press conference, Ram quipped, “So, it works out pretty well when you have a partner who is better than you are.”

Krejcikova described how she and Ram, who gave up singles to play doubles full time, first paired together in 2017 and lost in the first round. However, both like their chemistry on the court and decided to give it another try. “Rajeev, he’s really a nice guy and he fits in my game,” she said.

Both Krejcikova and Ram reached the women’s and men’s doubles finals, too. On Friday, Krejcikova and fellow Czech Katerina Siniakova came up short against Elise Mertens of Belgium and Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus. On Sunday, Ram and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain will play for the men’s doubles title against Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Filip Polasek from Slovakia.

“I play my best when I play with people that I get along with and enjoy and you can feel like you can feed off their energy, they can feed off your energy,” Ram told Tennis TourTalk, explaining his success as a doubles player.

“The great part about doubles is it’s a team game. In tennis, in singles it’s not like that. So, when we get this situation where we can actually – you can take help from somebody and you can help somebody else, I think it’s important to have that chemistry and connection.”

When Tennis TourTalk asked Krejcikova and Ram how important it was to be able to play and win in front of fans, both expressed their gratitude.

“I mean, to me it felt amazing, you know, after so many tournamentsnot really having any fans, that we could actually have some people coming out and just support us and cheer for us,” Krejcikova said.

“I mean, I really enjoy it, and it was really nice, you know, to celebrate it at the end with, you know, with some fans. … I just really appreciate moments like this, because, you know, last couple of tournaments it wasn’t really possible. I mean, I just hope it’s gonna get better soon and we just gonna have more opportunities to play with fans on the other tournaments.”

Ram added: “It was just extra special I think in this particular case because we played Aussies in the finals, too. We played Aussies last time.

“It was great. Playing with fans is what this is all about for us at this point, at this level. You want to play a Grand Slam final in front of people that want to be there to watch you.

“It was really cool, even though … I guess we had more support than maybe I thought. Obviously, most were cheering for our opponents, but it was still great.”

Saturday Australian Open results

Sunday Australian Open order of play

Djokovic vs. Medvedev: AO men’s final at a glance

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is a win away from his ninth Australian Open title – a major he’s dominated – which would be his 18th major and move him to within two of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who each have won 20 career Grand Slams. His opponent in Sunday’s final is Daniil Medvedev, who will be playing in just his second major final, but is playing as good as anyone on the ATP Tour. The year’s first Grand Slam wraps up on Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne Sunday at 7:30 p.m. AEDT (9:30 a.m. Central European, 8:30 a.m. London, 3:30 a.m. New York).

Djokovic, 34, reached the title match by defeating Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 on Thursday evening, while the 25-year-old Medvedev advanced over Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, 6-4, 6-2, 7-5, on Friday night.

The top-seeded Djokovic has an unbelievable 17-0 record in Australian Open semifinals and finals. “The more I win, the better I feel coming back each year,” he said. “I think it’s kind of also logical to expect that. The love affair keeps going.”

Meanwhile, Medvedev, who has strung together 20 straight victories dating back to last season – including 12 Top 10 victories – understands what it will take to win Sunday.

“I know that to beat him, you need to just show your best tennis, be at your best physically, maybe four or five hours, and be at your best mentally, maybe for five hours,” Medvedev said this week. “I would say to win a Slam, especially against somebody [like] Novak, is already a big motivation, and I don’t think there is anything that can make it bigger.”

Naomi Osaka: Not taking anything for granted

By the numbers

What they’re tweeting

What they’re writing

What they’re sharing on social media

Jennifer Brady / Trophy presentation

Barbora Krejcikova / A mixed doubles champion feeling

Garbiñe Muguruza / Back home in Geneva

Elina Svitolina / Thank you, Australia


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