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MIXED SUCCESS FOR ZIELINKSI AND HSEIH



Poland’s Jan Zielinski and Chinese Taipei’s Su-wei Hsieh have defeated Neal Skupski and Desirae Krawczyk in the mixed doubles final 6-7(5), 6-4, 11-9 to claim a grand slam title in their first event as a pair.

 

Coming from behind in all three sets, the first-time pairing remained composed under pressure before the Rod Laver Arena crowd against the more experienced American and British pair who were gunning for a third mixed doubles title together.

 

Opening proceedings with the Zielinski serve, the Polish world number 17 got his team off to a strong start hitting his spots on serve which allowed Hsieh to feast on the net.

 

When the Hsieh serve was broken in the seventh game of the match,  Neal Skupski had the chance to seal the first set when serving at 5-4.  Skupski, however, was unable to get any free points off his first serve which allowed Zielinski and Hsieh into each point before passing Krawczyk at the net twice and instantly leveling the match.

 

A tense tiebreak ensued and Zielinski, who fell at the last hurdle in the men’s doubles final last year to Australian’s Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler, looked to tense up as an errant forehand gave the American and Englishman an opportunity that would not be missed.

 

The match looked to be slipping away from Zielinski and Hsieh when they fell behind 2-4 in the second set before the pair reeled off four games in a row to send the final into a championship-deciding tiebreaker. 

 

Racing ahead thanks to three uncharacteristic unforced errors, Skupski and Krawczyk looked to have one hand on the Australian Open silverware. 

 

As was the trend, the tiebreaker eventually tightened and Hsieh, who is coached by Australian Paul McNamee, and Zielinski edged in front at 8-7 until two aces from Skupski earned him and Krawczyk a championship point at 9-8.

 

That, however, would be the last time the scoreboard moved for Krawczyk and Skupski as a successful overhead smash from Hsieh ensured the match continued before she and Zielinski etched their names in history with a forehand volley winner clinching an unlikely Australian Open mixed doubles title.

 

Speaking post-match, Zielinski revealed the nerves he faced in trying to become the first-ever Polish mixed doubles slam winner.

 

“Since yesterday I was getting a lot of messages, a lot of statistics that there were four Polish players lost in the finals before,” he said.

 

“You know, it started crumbling in my head today when we were up a lot in the super-tiebreak, and then things started getting out of control a little bit.

 

“We were down a match point. Saved the match point. I was, like, I don't want to be this next guy that, you know, we had chances again and people are going to be talking, like, you know, again, chances but there's a curse.

 

“But Su-Wei said before the match when we were walking onto the warmup that she's a curse breaker.”

 

When prompted why she was the curse breaker, Hsieh was happy to reveal her powers extend beyond playing brilliant tennis.

 

“There is a curse in Taiwan” she started.  “If you shake a hand with a person, then you're going to have really bad result after that, and there's a few players that's that.”

 

“But me, I'm the only person I shake the hand and I still win the championships and then I win the Grand Slam next year. So I say I'm the curse breaker.”

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