Four years after their first Grand Slam title together, Katarina Srebotnik and Nenad Zimonjic got back to winning ways on Philippe Chatrier court on Thursday, defeating Yaroslava Shvedova and Julian Knowle in a tense three-set affair, 4-6, 7-6(5), 11-9.
The match ebbed and flowed over an hour and a quarter, with the unseeded pairing of Kazak Shvedova and Austrian Knowle breaking to open and going on to take the first set 6-4.
No.6 seeds Zimonjic, the Serbian doubles specialist, and Slovenian veteran Srebotnik, battled their way through a second set which featured multiple breaks of service – a feature of modern doubles with the “No ad” rule which sees the next point after deuce deciding the game, and the receiving team choosing which side the service should come from.
Srebotnik and Zimonjic took a second set tie-break 7-5, after Shvedova and Knowle got in each others’ way on a crucial point. There then followed a super tie-break which was a microcosm of the whole tie, swinging first one way then the other. “Ziki” looked to be the villain of the piece, firing way long to give Shvedova and Knowle a 3-0 lead and two mini-breaks. An amazing backhand service return down the line levelled matters at 6-6, but a powerful two-handed forehand for Knowle (as is his wont, the Austrian playing double-handed from both sides) helped set up a match point. “Ziki” fired down an ace into the outside corner - on his second service, no less! – to save the day, then volleyed at the net with aplomb to win the match 11-9. The pairing now have four Grand Slam mixed doubles titles to their name, one together and two each with other partners.
“If Katarina doesn't play well I have no chance to win, and the other way around. If I don't play well, she can't win on her own – it's definitely a team,” said Zimonjic after the match. “Maybe one day or a couple of points you play better than your partner, but at the end it's important how you play together. The key this tournament really was all the struggles that we had and the ups and downs. They were really close matches, but we believed until the end that we can come through. We were a little fortunate to win yesterday (defeating No.3 seeds Nuria Llagostera Vives and Oliver Marach, again coming from a set behind and taking the super tie-break 11-9) and today. Today was high quality doubles,” he concluded, and those in attendance on Philippe Chatrier court would certainly agree.