Sunday, 29 January 2017

Spears and Cabal capture Mixed Title

Second seeds Ivan Dodig (Croatia) and Sania Mirza (India) earned the right to contest the 2017 Australian Open Mixed Doubles Final against unseeded Juan Sebastian Cabal (Colombia) and Abigail Spears (USA).
Dodig and Mirza defeated Groth and Stosur in their semi final, while Cabal and Spears knocked out Guccione and Svitolina.

Mirza has won three Mixed Grand Slam titles, but none with Dodig.  None of the other three have tasted mixed success at GS level.

Cabal/Spears won the toss and elected to receive.  Dodig served first and was greeted with a Cabal return winner.  A Cabal volley won the next point but a Mirza overhead put her team on the board.  30-30 with a service winner.  Break point came with an unfortunate double fault. (Aren't they all ?) Serve was broken 1-0 Cabal/Spears.

A mishit Mirza return began the Cabal service game.  Cabal stuffed one in the net before his partner twice put her volley to good use.  A sharp exchange between the teams ended with serve held and 2-0.  Mirza went to 30-0 with a Dodig volley but a Spears vicious angle and then her good return made it 30-30.   Break point with a Cabal drop shot.  Broken with a Spears return winner.
3-0 and a lightning start from the unseeded pair.

Return errors gifted Spears 30-0.  A Cabal volley winner and another return failing to do anything ensured 0-4 for the second seeds.  Dodig  served his team to 30-15 and a service winner gave it two game points, one of which vanished due to a wide forehand.  An overhead from Dodig won his team its first game. 1-4.

A Dodig return winner only delayed the inevitable Cabal service hold and it was 5-1.  Mirza won her way to 30-15 with strong forehands, and another helped her to game point.  Set point arrived though.  Saved with a smart Dodig backhand at the net. 2-5.
Spears to serve for the set.  0-15 after Spears made the difficult volley and missed the simpler version.  A sizzling winner from the second seeds and 0-30.  Two return errors and 30-30.  Dodig's forehand winner brought up break point.  Cabal won at the net and it was deuce.  Set point.  Mirza sent one wide and set one was secured by Cabal/Spears 6-2.

Dodig served first in set two and Spears won the first point.  30-15 after Dodig almost put a hole in the Cabal racquet.  Break point once Dodig found the net.  Ace and deuce.  Serve held and 1-0 to Dodig/Mirza.  Ace from Cabal replied with two great forehands from Dodig.  A Spears volley winner and 30-30.  A second ace for the game followed by a double fault.  Deuce.  The break resulted and Dodig/Mirza led 2-0 to be back in the contest.

Mirza serving well and Dodig finishing nicely at the net sent the team quickly to 40-0.  A capable Spears overhead was the only highlight for the opposition in a game which took the second seeds to 3-0.  Spears held easily but the team still trailed 1-3, down a break.

Good defense from Cabal and Spears won the first point on the Dodig delivery before his serve dominated and extended the advantage to 4-1.  Cabal reduced the deficit to 2-4.  A return winner by Cabal left Mirza 0-15.  A Mirza backhand pass was the response.  A double fault and 15-40.  Spears put away a backhand volley to effect the break.  4-3 Dodig/Mirza but back on serve.

Spears continued to hold serve with confidence, although a Mirza return winner dampened it slightly.  30-15.  A double fault even more.  Serve held and 4-4.  Spears the only player yet to be broken in the match.
Double fault from Dodig.  Awesome high backhand volley from Mirza.  Another double fault and danger.  Break points after a Dodig shot drifted long.  One saved with a timely winner.  Double fault and 4-5.

Cabal serving for the match.  15-15.  30-15 after Cabal volley straight at the body of Dodig.  Match points after Spears left one to float out.  Appropriately an Abigail Spears volley winner sealed the match.

Juan Sebastian Cabal and Abigail Spears deservedly won the 2017 Australian Open Mixed Doubles Championship 6-2 6-4.  

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