Australian Open 2019: Astra Sharma the New Face Of Australian Tennis

0
791
Astra Sharma and John-Patrick Smith at Australian Open 2019
Astra Sharma and John-Patrick Smith lose mixed doubles final in Melbourne

The Australian wild card mixed doubles pair of Astra Sharma and John-Patrick Smith reach the finals of the Australian Open 2019 by knocking down the second-seeded pairing of American Nicole Melichar and Brazilian Bruno Soares 6-4 7-6 (5) in the mixed doubles semifinals. In the finals, the Australian pair fell 7-6 (3) 6-1 to the American veteran Rajeev Ram and his Czech partner Barbora Krejcikova.

The 23-year-old from Perth, Sharma was ranked 974 in WTA singles rankings while she was wrapping up her 2016 tennis season. In two years of time, she reached the top 250 WTA ranking in tennis. Also, the last year she graduated from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee in the US with a degree in Medicine and Health and Society. This year she qualified and sealed a spot for herself in the main draw of the Australian Open 2019. She played some enthralling matches in the qualifiers where she defeated the former World Number two Vera Zvonareva. In the first round, she surpassed her compatriot, Priscilla Hon. However, she surrendered to the Greek women, Maria Sakkari in the second round of the Melbourne major.

Australian Open 2019
Barbora Krejcikova and Rajeev Ram, Australian Open 2019 Mixed Doubles Champions

Nevertheless, she kept the hopes for her premier Slam title alive and the Singapore-born, Sharma along with her partner, Smith breezed into the finals of the mixed doubles event in Melbourne. “It’s all unreal,” she said, after winning the semi-finals. “I actually can’t think right now. Going out to the court, you see all those lighted-up panels and it’s intimidating. I was shaking in my boots. I’m speechless really. I can’t really believe the situation we’re in. Coming into this I had zero expectation and now I’m absolutely over the moon.”

The mixed doubles champion, Ram who won the Olympic mixed doubles silver in Rio with Venus Williams revealed his admiration towards Sharma, he apprised her, “I think it took me about 65 Grand Slams to reach my first final and 75 to reach my second, which is today. So for you to do it in your first, it’s quite impressive – (you’re) going to be a big star in Australian tennis.”

Stosur and Zhang with a Melbourne doubles crown
Stosur and Zhang with a win over Babos, Mladenovic at Australian Open 2019 Women’s Doubles Final

Sharma and Smith barely knew each other before teaming up for the Melbourne major, but however, their team has triumphed over multiple major winners Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray earlier in the last eight round. In the victory ceremony, Sharma mentioned, “It’s been a fantastic experience for my first Slam and I can’t wait to be back next year”. Besides Sharma’s splendid performance in her home country, the women’s doubles champion team, Zhang Shuai and Samantha Stosur feature an Australian. Also, John Peers an Australian tennis player who is partnering Henri Kontinen is into the finals of the men’s doubles event and they will play the French duo Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut on Sunday.