Marach/Pavic Claim Maiden Grand Slam Trophy
Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic entered the 2018 Australian Open on fire, becoming just the fifth team to win two ATP World Tour events leading up to the year’s first Grand Slam, capturing trophies at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open and the ASB Classic.
But while none of those first four teams advanced past the semi-finals at Melbourne Park, the Austrian-Croatian team surged all the way to its maiden Grand Slam title, defeating 11th seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-4, 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena.
"I don't know what to say," Pavic said in disbelief. "I'm really happy with everything, with these two weeks, with the beginning of the year. We still haven't lost a match."
Marach and Pavic began their partnership at the Miami Open presented by Itau last March. But after three months and a 7-7 start, the pair considered splitting in Stuttgart.
Ever since, they have been one of the best teams on the ATP World Tour, reaching the final that week (l. Murray/Soares) at the Mercedes Cup. They have not looked back, earning four tour-level titles as a team and advancing to three finals, including 2017 Wimbledon, falling in a heartbreaking fifth-set, 13-11, against Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo.
And while the team appeared at the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals as alternates, Marach and Pavic are well on their way to qualifying for the season finale in London this year.
"What can I say? I'm a little bit speechless," Marach said. "Since last year we've grown together unbelievably. We've had really unbelievable runs and I hope we can continue this year. I enjoyed every minute being with you on the court and I hope we can continue like that."
In their second major final, Marach and Pavic did not let slip their opportunity. They broke at 4-4 in both sets, and Marach sealed the title with a big serve down the middle that elicited a return into the net by Farah.
"These guys are playing amazing this year," Cabal said.
It is Marach's 20th tour-level title and he wins the trophy at Melbourne Park on his 12th attempt, the second longest it took for an Australian Open champion (Leander Paes, 17 attempts). Pavic, who earns his 11th tour-level crown, is the second Croatian player to win a men's doubles Grand Slam championship (Ivan Dodig, 2015 Roland Garros). He is also the youngest (24 years, 207 days) to triumph at the Australian Open in men's doubles since Michael Llodra (23 years, 259 days) in 2004.
"It was tough for us. It was not easy because we had a lot of matches from Doha on, a lot of traveling also. We went to Auckland, had a long flight and everything," Pavic said. "We didn't really had a lot of days off or nothing. We kept on playing and playing and playing. It was getting tougher. Quarters, semis, I think we didn't play our best tennis. But just that confidence that we brought on from those tournaments and the wins and everything helped us a lot actually."
Cabal and Farah, who did not lose a set prior to the final, were bidding to become the first Colombians to win a men's doubles major title. Cabal is one of two Colombians to win any Grand Slam, triumphing at the Australian Open in mixed doubles last year with Abigail Spears.
Marach and Pavic earn 2,000 ATP Doubles Rankings points and claim their share of $700,000, while Cabal and Farah capture 1,200 points and split $350,000.
Pavic will be back in action Sunday as he partners Gabirela Dabrowski against Rohan Bopanna and Timea Babos for the mixed doubles title.
"I don't let you sleep. I don't care," Marach joked.
"It's going to be tough," Pavic said. "[But] I have to celebrate enough."