Ivan Dodig and new dad Filip Polasek won their first Grand Slam doubles title together by comprehensively defeating defending champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury at the Australian Open.
Dodig and Polasek were deserved 6-3 6-4 winners at Rod Laver Arena, not facing a break point on Sunday and constantly applying pressure on their higher-seeded opponents.
It had to be extra special for Polasek, who came out of retirement in 2018 after a back issue led to leg problems and forced him out of the game. He never thought he’d return. And two days ago, his partner gave birth to their second child, a daughter.
“Just got to say big congratulations to Ivan and Filip,” said Salisbury. “That was way too good today. Gotta be one of the best performances in a final ever.”
“Filip I know it’s your first Grand Slam,” said Ram. “That was way too good. Not sure what we could have done any different, so you guys played awesome.”
“Since we started to play one and a half years ago, we are really enjoying and playing good tennis,” said Dodig. “We are having a lot of fun and hopefully it is going to continue."
Fittingly, the Slovak served out the contest with ease. He let out a massive roar when Salisbury’s pushed reply sailed long.
Polasek was the lone player of the quartet on court not to have lifted a Grand Slam trophy in men’s doubles.
Ram and Salisbury were foiled in their bid to become the first repeat men’s doubles winners since Bob and Mike Bryan tallied three in a row from 2009-11.
Only one other duo did it in the previous 20 years, French pair Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro.
But the US’s Ram leaves Melbourne Park with a trophy after winning the mixed title for the second time in three campaigns with Barbora Krejcikova.
On an overcast day where the steamy conditions of late gave way to cooler temperatures, both teams sailed through the opening five games — before an epic sixth.
A double fault from Ram opened the door to three consecutive break chances for Dodig and Polasek but the American produced two first serves.
They didn’t win the points straight off the serve, however. Ram engineered a good volley down the line but even better was Salisbury’s instinctive stretch volley on the second.
The best shot of the game, though, followed on the fifth break point as Salisbury lunged again to pull off a spectacular volley.
Given a rare look at a second serve on the final break point, Dodig’s backhand return down the line narrowly missed long and wide.
Crucially, Dodig held comfortably in the next game, then the Croatian’s sizzling return helped his side break for 5-3. Confirmation of the break came when Polasek’s return clipped the top of the tape, making things tricky for Ram.
Polasek and Dodig surged and when they held three straight breaks points to start the second, it seemed as if a straight-sets win was on the cards.
Dodig missing a short forehand into the net with plenty of time at 0-40 felt inconsequential.
But Ram came through his serve and Britain’s Salisbury saved another break point with an ace for 2-1.
There were still no break points for Ram and Salisbury, although they built some momentum by getting to deuce on the Polasek serve at 2-3.
The Slovakian pulled through it and Salisbury was under pressure again, facing two break points. Two volley winners by Salisbury from first serves fended off the danger temporarily.
But on the third, Dodig ripped a forehand return winner down the line, punctuated by a loud roar.
A glittering Polasek return set up a match point at 5-3, well saved by Ram.
But Polasek and Dodig clinched proceedings in the next game in one hour 28 minutes.