Balaji-Jeevan stun fifth seeds, move to Australian Open 2nd round

Melbourne, Jan 21 (PTI) The Indian men’s doubles pair of N Sriram Balaji and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan continued their good run by stunning fifth seeds Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek in the opening round of the Australian Open here on Saturday.

Balaji and Nedunchezhiyan, who came into the tournament as an alternate team, took two hours 20 minutes to win the first round fixture 7-6 (6) 2-6 6-4 against Croatian Dodig and American Krajicek.

In the mixed doubles event, veterans Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna too advanced to the second round, with a straight set win.

Despite having less number of aces and winners, Balaji and Nedunchezhiyan had more service points, and delivered when it mattered the most, converting both their break points.

The Indian team, featuring in its debut Grand Slam, won the tie breaker after saving a set point.

However, they were broken in the sixth and eighth games as Dodig and Krajicek forced a decider. A forehand winner in the seventh game gave Balaji and Nedunchezhiyan the crucial break in the third set.

Balaji and Nedunchezhiyan, who had finished runners-up at the Tata Open Maharashtra earlier this month, will take on the French duo of Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin in the second round.

Mirza and Bopanna dispatched locals Jaimee Fourlis and Luke Saville 7-5 6-3 in their opening round.

The Indian took a crucial break in the 11th game to take the opening set. With the wind in their sails, Mirza and Bopanna then dominated the second set, breaking their opponents in the seventh and ninth game.