Amidst all the Federer-Nadal and Serena-Venus finals hype, we seem to have almost overlooked the fact that Sania Mirza has also reached the final of the Mixed Doubles event, partnering Croatia's Ivan Dodig. If Sania does go on to win, this will be her fourth Grand Slam mixed doubles title and her seventh overall.
Mirza and Dodig, who came into the tournament as the second seeds, take on the unseeded pair of Abigail Spears from the USA, and Juan Sebastian Cabal from Colombia. This will be Sania's seventh mixed doubles final, and only the second one with Dodig. The duo had lost to Leander Paes and Martina Hingis at the French Open 2016 final.
Incidentally, Sania's first Grand Slam title was in mixed doubles in the Australian Open in 2009, when she had triumphed with Mahesh Bhupathi. So, Melbourne Park is surely a happy hunting ground for her. On the other hand, her partner, Dodig, is still looking for his first Grand Slam mixed doubles title.
When is the match and where can you watch it?
The match will take place on Sunday, 29th January, at 10:30 AM IST. It will be live on Sony SIX and Sony SIX HD. You can also stream the match on the Sony LIV app.
Road to the final
While their unseeded opponents seemed to have had a comfortable road to the final, not dropping even a set, the same cannot be said about Mirza and Dodig. They've had to play match tie-breaks in three of their four matches so far. Their only straight sets win came in the 1st round against the 2016 US Open champions, Laura Siegemund and Mate Pavic.
Their closest shave came against Rohan Bopanna and his Canadian partner Gabriela Dabrowski. They had to save 4 match points in that match, three of them at 9-6 down in the match tie-break, and then one later at 10-9 down. But they finally came through 12-10 in the match.
They took confidence from that win to then knock out in-form local favourites Sam Stosur and Sam Groth in the semi-finals. Groth and Stosur had beaten favourites Leander Paes and Martina Hingis in straight sets in the quarter-finals.
Results so far
Round 1 - Beat Laura Siegemund(GER)/Mate Pavic(CRO) 7-5 6-4
Round 2 - Beat Alexander Peya(AUT)/Saisai Zheng(CHN) 2-6 6-3 10-6
Quarter Finals - Beat Rohan Bopanna(IND)/Gabriela Dabrowski(CAN) 6-4 3-6 12-10
Semi Finals - Beat Sam Groth(AUS)/Sam Stosur(AUS) 6-4 2-6 10-5
Chances in the final
Mirza & Dodig definitely go into the match as favourites. If they play to their potential, their brand of power tennis would prove to be too much to handle for the American-Colombian pairing of Cabal and Spears.
Also, the fact that they've come through so many tight match tie-breaks in the earlier rounds, will stand them in good stead, if such a situation arises in the finals. On the contrary, their opponents have won all their matches in straight sets, thus, not having had the opportunity to play even a single match tie-break.
Even though their opponents have been in scintillating form in this tournament, they seem to be lacking on big match experience. This is reflected in the fact that they have appeared in just three Grand Slam finals in their entire careers combined, losing all three.
Spears and Cabal have had modest career high rankings of 10 & 18, respectively. On the other hand, Sania has won multiple Grand Slam titles and is the current world no.2, while Dodig also has a Grand Slam men's doubles title to his name, to go alongside with his career high rank of four. This experience factor can prove to be an extremely decisive factor in big matches such as these!