Matt Ebden and Jarmila Gajdosova entered the fortnight as a scratch wildcard pairing, but leave Australian Open 2013 as Grand Slam champions on home turf after a 6-3 7-5 mixed doubles triumph over Czech duo Lucie Hradecka and Frantisek Cermak on Sunday.
The Australian pair was more solid when it counted in the 73-minute affair, breaking the Hradecka serve twice in the first set for 5-3 before Ebden held to love to take it 6-3.
Ebden and Gajdosova pounced early in the second, pinching a crucial early break on Cermak’s serve in the opening game and consolidating the advantage until 4-2.
Up a set and a break and with one hand seemingly on the cup, the Aussies had break points on Hradecka’s serve but failed to convert, Gajdosova relinquishing the lead in the following game when Hradecka cracked a double-handed forehand crosscourt out of reach to level at 4-4.
Ebden stemmed the flow of games, holding for 5-5, with Hradecka then sending down two double faults and a netted backhand to hand the Aussies the chance to serve for the championship.
Impressive on serve all day, Gajdosova raced to triple match point and sealed the result on her third offering when Cermak sent a return long.
The win marked the first Grand Slam trophy of any kind for the duo, and Gajdosova said it was something every aspiring player dreamt of achieving.
“I know it’s mixed, but it’s still a Grand Slam title. You can tell your kids ‘I won a Grand Slam and it was in Australia’, which is very special,” she said.
“I think our personalities gel pretty well. I hope this is not our last one and we get to play again.”
Ebden admitted he instigated what has started out as an undefeated partnership with Gajdosova in the off-season.
“I chased her up and back in December got a hold of her number from a secret person and just texted her,” he laughed.
“She’s been to the semifinals of other Grand Slams twice with another partner who she sometimes plays with, but he wasn’t available so she said ‘let’s do it’. Then as it got to the quarterfinals, semifinals, it got serious.”
Ebden was clearly not taking the win for granted, as he admitted you never knew how many chances you’d get to compete in a Grand Slam decider.
“To come out with a win in our first final and get a title straight away and to become Grand Slam champions is an amazing feeling, and something we'll always have,” he said.
“Hopefully we can both use this is as a springboard and give us some confidence looking forward to Davis Cup and Fed Cup, and for the rest of the year for singles, too.”