Australian Open: Ebden-Gajdosova clinch mixed doubles title

Anand Datla

Jarmila Gajdosova and Matthew Ebden added their bit to the spirit of Australia Day celebrations by making the most of their wild card entry to clinch the Australian Open with a memorable 6-3, 7-5 victory over the Czech pair of Lucie Hradecká and František ?ermák 6-3, 7-5 in an hour and 13 minutes to take their maiden Grand Slam title in the warm presence of an adoring Australian crowd.

There is always an enduring romance about the success of your own, and the Rod Laver Arena filled in with the scent of some Aussie fervour, as they cheered on Ebden, glowing afresh from the pleasure of his recent wedding with long-time girlfriend Kim Doig, and Jarmila Gajdošová – a Slovakian who took to Australia after marrying Samuel Groth in 2009, and though the two separated in 2011, she chose to remain an Aussie.

The scratch duo probably noticed legendary Margaret Court among the sparse audience, as they got off to a nervy start surrendering an early break in the third game. But they quickly undid the damage by taking apart the Hradecka serve in the fourth game to keep it even at 2-2. Lucie had yet another poor service game in the critical eighth to help the Aussies get three break points for a 5-3 lead. Though Cermak helped saved the first by cutting off the point with a forehand volley into the open deuce court, Hradecka lost serve when she dumped a backhand in the net on the next. Ebden wasted no time to seal the set, with a couple of big aces wide off the court to a round of warm applause.

The situation turned grim for the Czech pair, when Frantisek gifted a break in the very first game with a double fault, leaving the Aussies with a hand on the trophy. There was a glimmer of hope when Hradecka held serve for the first time in the match to make it 1-2, with a backhand cross court winner behind Ebden, who was moving in anticipation of the ball coming up the line. But Gajdosova ensured that the momentum stayed with the Aussies by holding comfortably to take a 3-1 lead.

The Czech pair flirted with danger again, when Cermak missed an easy forehand volley in the fifth game to offer another break point, but bailed out with a good serve to remain within striking distance. Ebden, who had been serving like a charm all afternoon, suddenly threw in a double fault and the Czechs had a point to bring the set back on serve. But with their back to the wall, the overly eager Cermak pulled the trigger too soon, only for it to sink in the net and squander the golden opportunity.

In the next game, Hradecka served her fourth double fault to offer three break points to the Aussie pair. But Lucie had been wearing her determination on her sleeve from the third game and she brought it to bear on the game to ensure it did not turn from bad to worse. A big forehand return by Cermak in the next game forced the error from Ebden to bring about another chance to get the set back on serve. And this time, Hradecka stepped up to the plate to tee off and strike a sizzling forehand return winner to draw level at 4-4.

The Czechs, though, undid the hard work in the eleventh game. Playing tentatively, Hradecka just did not have the strings to respond to a powerful forehand cross court strike by Ebden from the baseline to leave Gajdosova the opportunity to serve out for the championship. The lady quickly brought up three (technically four, since there is no advantage in the mixed doubles these days) chances to take the title.

A fabulous forehand return from Cermak and an edgy double fault added some last minute drama, but at the third time of asking, Cermak overcooked his return, much to the relief of the nervous Gajdosova and Ebden who became the first Aussie pair since Scott Draper and Samantha Stosur in 2005 to clinch the mixed doubles title in Melbourne.

Edited by Staff Editor
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