In their very first tournament together, Ivan Dodig and Kristina Mladenovic have come away as Australian Open champions.
The Croatian-French pairing defeated Australian wildcards Jaimee Fourlis and Jason Kubler in straight sets on Friday afternoon at Rod Laver Arena to win the AO 2022 mixed doubles title.
Both Dodig and Mladenovic had significantly more experience at this level than the Aussies, and it showed, as they powered to a 6-3 6-4 win beneath a closed roof.
"You guys have no idea how many times we texted each other, (saying) let's play mixed," Mladenovic told the crowd during the trophy presentation. "And finally it happened, so thank you (Ivan) for playing with me. I had an amazing time, and what a way to finish our first time on court together."
Added Dodig, addressing the crowd: "Thank you guys, for coming. We all know that it's a difficult time. You guys had it here very difficult. We all are struggling. But it's amazing... last year I played a final here and there was no crowd. This year it's much better. You guys are great.
"I'm also playing well; last year I won doubles, now mixed. So it's great to come back here."
Indeed, Dodig won the men's doubles title at Melbourne Park last year with Filip Polasek, and was already a three-time Grand Slam mixed doubles champion.
Mladenovic, meanwhile, was a seven-time Grand Slam champion, with two mixed doubles trophies accompanying her five in women's doubles.
But it was Aussies Fourlis and Kubler, up until the final, who ignited the mixed doubles draw with their succession of exciting victories from precarious positions.
The pair saved a collective seven match points in three different victories en route to the title match.
"It's been an absolute laugh this week. It's been so much fun. Didn't really know what to expect, to be honest, but hey, we made it this far," Fourlis said to Kubler, after they became the fourth all-Australian mixed pairing to reach the AO final in the past decade.
"We started on Court 15 in the sticks, and we've slowly made our way up to Rod Laver Arena, even playing a match at 1:00am.
"So we've been through everything, and it's been so much fun."
But on Friday, Dodig and Mladenovic ensured there would be no repeat of such thrilling escape artistry.
Despite falling behind an early break, they broke straight back in the fourth game and again for a 5-3 lead, thanks to some expert work around the net.
Mladenovic earned her team a set point with a forehand volley winner, and Dodig helped them convert it with a heavily-kicking serve that Fourlis could not control.
Having won five of the last six games of the set, Dodig and Mladenovic also assumed control of the second with an early break.
Fourlis helped her team snatch the break back by forcing a Dodig error with a booming return.
But Dodig and Mladenovic clinched a sudden-death deuce point in the seventh game when a Fourlis forehand flew long, and they were back in control.
With Dodig serving, he and Mladenovic combined to take an entertaining championship point, finished with a Mladenovic forehand volley winner.
It was their 27th of the match, compared to the Aussie's final tally of 17.
"I remember myself being stuck in the locker-room, and actually (being) late to my practice watching your first round where you saved I think multiple match points," Mladenovic told Fourlis and Kubler.
"Well done for an amazing tournament. It was amazing watching you play. And Jason, we played in the juniors together, so it's nice to see you on (this) stage.
"Congrats to you (both) and your whole team."