Mon, Jan 30, 2017 - Page 7 News List

Spears, Cabal join Australian Open ‘30-fun’ party


Juan Sebastian Cabal of Colombia, left, and Abigail Spears of the US return to Sania Mirza of India and Ivan Dodig of Croatia in the Australian Open mixed doubles final in Melbourne yesterday.

Photo: EPA

Abigail Spears played her part at the Australian Open “30-fun” party by winning the mixed doubles title in Melbourne yesterday.

The 35-year-old Spears teamed with Colombia’s Juan Sebastian Cabal to beat second seeds Sania Mirza and Ivan Dodig 6-2, 6-4 in the final on Rod Laver Arena.

Spears was striving to win her first Grand Slam title in her farewell year.

She plans to retire at the end of this season after a career in which she was twice runner-up in mixed doubles finals with Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico, at the US Open in 2013 and 2014.

“Yeah, I think it’s my last, but I guess everybody says that and then they reconsider at some point,” Spears said. “I hope it’s my last, but if not, then I think I would finish here next year. This is my favorite tournament. I have so many friends here. I might finish in Australia, then that would be the end.”

The victory by Spears and the 30-year-old Cabal continued the veteran’s theme of the championships, with all players in the men’s and women’s singles finals aged 30 or older.

The 35-year-old Serena Williams coined the term “30-fun” after beating her 36-year-old sister, Venus, in the oldest women’s singles final — in terms of combined ages — in the Open era.

It was only the second Grand Slam event as a team for Spears and Cabal, who lost in the first round at the French Open last year.

Cabal also celebrated his Grand Slam breakthrough, having been runner-up with Argentine Eduardo Schwank in the 2011 French Open men’s doubles.

He had never advanced beyond the quarter-finals in previous mixed doubles at Melbourne Park.

Spears and Cabal built on a brilliant 4-0 start to grab the opening set and continued to apply pressure with their consistency through the second. At 4-4 Dodig double-faulted to lose his serve and Cabal stepped up to close out the victory.

It was the second Grand Slam final for Mirza and Dodig as a team.

They were runners-up in the French Open mixed doubles last year and Dodig won the men’s doubles title with Brazil’s Marcelo Melo in Paris in 2015.

Mirza has three mixed doubles majors — the 2009 Australian Open and 2012 French Open with fellow Indian Mahesh Bhupathi, and the 2014 US Open mixed title with Brazil’s Bruno Soares.

She has also won three Grand Slam women’s doubles titles — Wimbledon and the US Open in 2015 and last year’s Australian Open.

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