Hometown hero Jaimee Fourlis and fellow compatriot Jason Kubler have been prevented from completing a fairytale run to stardom at the Australian Open, suffering final heartbreak as they fell to Kristina Mladenovic and Ivan Dodig in the Mixed Doubles Final at Melbourne Park.
The 6-3, 6-4 defeat for the Australians kickstarts a huge weekend for Australian tennis, with Ash Barty alongside the four Aussies in the Men’s Doubles Final all still able to take home Grand Slam silverware.
It takes nothing away from a nonetheless meteoric rise of the Australian pair who had never before played alongside one another before, but their inability to outclass their higher-skilled opponents on the day rendered them runners-up in the tournament.
Opening set brilliance sets the tone
After gaining the opening break of the match early in the first set, the Australian duo of Fourlis and Kubler looked to start as they meant to go on.
However, impeccable returning from both Mladenovic and Dodig enabled them to immediately break back, before winning five of the next six games to claim the first set 6-3.
Despite a rather muted crowd in full support of the team from down under, Fourlis and Kubler could not race out of the blocks, losing the overall points won statistic 30-19.
It took only 35 minutes for the number five seeds to wrap up the opening set after starting slowly, setting the tone for the dominance that ensued for the rest of the match.
Mladenovic mindset sees her become a Grand Slam champion
After French doubles star Kristina Mladenovic was broken early in the first set, many players may have lost confidence and dropped their heads.
Mladenovic refused to do so. With impeccable serving and help from her Croatian doubles partner, they broke back immediately, changing the momentum of the match there and then.
In the second set, lightning struck twice, as Mladenovic was broken yet again.
However, in the very next game, she asserted control over the game, hitting a stunning winner to assure that her confidence was not dented.
Mladenovic was the standout across the four players to take to the court on Friday afternoon, and it was fitting that her performance in the final point sealed the deal, and made her a two-time Australian Open Mixed Doubles champion.
More Tennis News
Doubles gains traction in tandem with Australian success stories
The Men’s Doubles tournament at the Australian Open has been well-publicised, with the boisterous crowds attending the ‘Special Ks’ Kyrgios and Kokkinakis games, alongside the tight-knit team of Max Ebden and Matt Purcell turning heads on their side of the draw.
In spite of this, Jaimee Fourlis and Jason Kubler’s journey to the showpiece game of the Mixed Doubles tournament has flown under the radar in comparison.
After gaining entry to the competition as wildcards, their tenacity and work ethic have been coupled with some wonderful tennis.
Even though they fell short in the final, the Melburnian and Queenslander have done their country proud, showing Australian spirit in microcosm.
As such, Australian tennis observers should take solace in how successful their country’s players have performed in the doubles arena, whilst showing that Australian tennis is not just limited to its singles stars.
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