Polasek won his first major tournament, while Dodig captured his fifth between men’s and mixed doubles. Though they got the year off to a strong start with a runner-up finish in Antayla, Turkey, the ninth seeds weren’t considered among the favorites in Melbourne, with Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic—who beat them in Antayla—coming in with two titles already in 2021; Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram, the defending champions, aiming for a repeat; and the reunited team of Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, the 2016 winners, playing well. Dodig and Polasek only dropped one set in their first four matches, then ended Mektic and Pavic’s winning streak in the semis. In the final, they beat Ram and Salisbury in straight sets, with the win making Polasek the first man from Slovakia to win a Grand Slam in men’s doubles.
HARD TO HANDLE
Given their knack for winning titles, fairly young ages and high rankings, Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka are both usually on the short lists of contenders for Grand Slam singles titles.
In doubles, the Belgian-Belarussian duo is considered an outright favorite, especially on hard courts.
Seeded second in Melbourne, Mertens and Sabalenka were pushed to the brink in two of their first three matches, then caught fire. In the quarterfinals, they only dropped two games to Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara, the hottest team on tour to that point. Next, they won their semifinal match against the number-four seeds Demi Schuurs and Nicole Melichar in straights to set up a final against two-time major champions Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, the third seeds. In what was expected to be a battle, Mertens and Sabalenka had no problems with the Czechs, defeating them, 6-2, 6-3, to win their second Grand Slam title together after the 2019 US Open.