Doubles wrap: Stosur and Ebden claim thrilling mixed semi

  • Matt Trollope

Sam Stosur and Matt Ebden have continued their excellent run at the Australian Open mixed doubles with a thrilling semifinal win on Friday evening.

The Australian wildcard pairing held off American Desirae Krawczyk and Brit Joe Salisbury 7-5 5-7 [10-8] to set up a final showdown with Barbora Krejcikova and Rajeev Ram, scheduled for Saturday night at Rod Laver Arena following the women’s singles final.

It was very nearly a perfect winning day for Salisbury, who earlier on Friday combined with Ram to return to the Australian Open men’s doubles final.

Stosur sends down a serve during her win with Matt Ebden

The defending champions saw off Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares 6-4 7-6(2) at Rod Laver Arena to extend their winning streak at Melbourne Park to 11 matches.

The duo will take on Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek in the title match on Sunday.

Stosur and Ebden, meanwhile, have a similarly impressive history at the Australian Open.

Stosur was a mixed champion with Scott Draper in 2005 before Ebden combined with Jarmila Gadjosova to win the 2013 tournament. Stosur also won the women’s doubles title with Zhang Shuai in 2019.

And they continued that winning form in the first set on Court 3 before a parochial crowd, with Stosur drawing a return error from Krawczyk to take the opening set.

Sam Stosur pumps her fist after a key point

Her serve let her down in the final game of the second set, with three consecutive double faults gifting her opponents the game.

But in the match tiebreak, Stosur steadied, and she and Ebden combined strongly to forge ahead 6-1.

There were tense moments for the Aussie duo when Krawczyk and Salisbury worked their way back with solid play at the net to level at 8-8.

In a fantastic response, Stosur smacked a forehand return winner off Salibury’s second set to earn a match point, which Ebden converted with a forehand volley winner.

"I think just being experienced has helped us gel quickly."
Matt Ebden

“Thankfully we were able to execute all of that when it really mattered,” Stosur said.

“I think just being experienced has helped us gel quickly,” said Ebden of he and Stosur, who are playing together for the first time.

“We know what to expect out of the format of mixed doubles firstly, and also we know what to expect from each other, what we're after.

“We had some good practice sessions together. We put in some good work, quite a few hours of good practice and good warm-ups and good work, working on our game, getting ready for our matches.

“So far so good.”

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Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury have progressed to the men's final

Salisbury’s disappointment was no doubt eased by his victory earlier in the day with Ram, who was in the stands at Court 3 to support his partner during the mixed semifinals.

After going down 3-0, Ram and Salisbury broke back in the fifth game and broke serve again in the ninth to lead 5-4. Salibury served out the set comfortably, with Ram volleying away a forehand winner to seal it.

The second set did not feature a single break point, with a tiebreak required to separate the two teams.

Here, the defending champions stepped up, while Soares in particular unravelled; he played a backhand into the net to give Ram and Salisbury a 4-2 lead, volleyed a forehand long to give them a bunch of match points, and double faulted on the first of them to hand Ram and Salisbury victory.

The American and the Brit finished the match with a brilliant 34 winners against only seven errors.

"It feels amazing to be back in the final,” Salisbury said. 

“That was such a tough match, I think we really had to dig deep, fight hard. I think there were times when it was a really good level and times where it dropped down a bit and we had to battle to stay in that second set.

“Just really happy we played a good tiebreak and excited for the final.”

"We knew obviously they were a great team, we've played them together, individually, so many times. Getting that break back early in the first set was really helpful for our morale to then play a pretty good match the rest of the way,” said Ram.