Australian Open: A Chance Partnership Leads To First Mixed Doubles Title For Hsieh And Zielinski

Hsieh Su-Wei and Jan Zielinski (photo: Tennis Australia/Hamish Blair)

MELBOURNE/WASHINGTON, January 27, 2024 (by Michael Dickens)

The first champions of the Australian Open, Hsieh Su-Wei and Jan Zielinski, almost didn’t compete in the mixed doubles competition. Each of them, Hsieh from Taiwan and Zielinski of Poland, are established doubles players but typically compete in the women’s and men’s doubles disciplines.

However, when the 27-year-old Zielinski arrived in Melbourne and saw Hsieh’s name on the players list looking for mixed doubles partners, he couldn’t resist asking her. After all, Hsieh, 38, has won six women’s Grand Slam doubles titles (four on grass at Wimbledon and two on clay at the French Open and is in the Australian Open final teamed with Elise Mertens of Belgium), is a former No. 1-ranked player and “has a ton of experience under her, and could carry us a long way.”

“I didn’t know until the last minute who am I going to play with,” Zielinski explained Friday after he and Hsieh defeated Desirae Crawczyk of the United States and Neal Skupski of Great Britain, 6-7 (6), 6-4, 11-9, after saving a championship point in the match tie-break, to win the AO mixed doubles title.

“I was coming into Melbourne not really aiming for the mixed doubles, as I mentioned, and after previous matches I lost four times in the first round last year. So, I was coming in just to have fun and, you know, see how it goes,” added Zielinski, whose career-best ranking in men’s doubles came last year at No. 7.

“When I saw Su-Wei’s name on the looking list, I was, like, ‘Oh, actually, this could be the best partner I ever had. Yeah, let’s give it a try, let’s text, let’s see if she wants to play.’ She agreed on the same day, her coach agreed to play on the same day.

“Yeah, I was just looking forward to have some fun on court, seeing how it works out, how it plays out, and I knew before we stepped on court, Su-Wei is a very experienced doubles player. … It ended up being a decent run, I would say.”

Hsieh adds: “Of course it’s very exciting and very different than the doubles, because I have won a few doubles. Last year I was in two finals, I was very chill. Probably the chillest player on the court. I was not even feeling nervous on the court.

“But with mixed doubles, it was exciting and my partner is very good. I know he’s very good from the baseline, at the net, and the serve. I just need to do my stuff to put the ball inside the court and pass the net person. This is my job, very clear. He’s doing his job so I’m doing my job and we’re doing good.”

Zielinski, who was a AO men’s doubles finalist last year with Hugo Nys of Monaco, described his success this year in mixed doubles as “a great feeling.” He’s the first Polish player to win a mixed doubles Grand Slam. At the beginning of the Australian fortnight, among Polish teammates Iga Swiatek and Hubert Hurkacz, both Top-10 singles stars, who would have thought it would be only Zielinski leaving Melbourne with a trophy?

“I’m very happy I was able to do it with such a legend on court and magician,” Zielinski said, “Yeah, it was a great run.”

Hsieh agreed and added: “I’m already clicking my box for next year.”

Jamrichova wins AO junior girls’ singles title

Top seed Renata Jamrichova, 16, became the fourth Slovakian player to win a Grand Slam junior singles title after defeating 15-year-old Emerson Jones of Australia, seeded sixth, to win the AO junior girls’ crown, 6-4, 6-1, in 61 minutes on Rod Laver Arena Saturday afternoon.

“I played my best this week,” Jamrichova said in her post-match news conference. “At first, I started really nervous because of the crowd and of the Rod Laver, but then I just told myself, ‘Just be happy on the court and enjoy every point. Just be happy that you can stay here and play this amazing match’.”

Around Melbourne Park

No. 1 seed Diede De Groot of the Netherlands won her sixth Australian Open women’s wheelchair singles title on Saturday. De Groot defeated No. 2 seed Yui Kamiji of Japan, 7-5, 6-4, in one hour and 36 minutes in Kia Arena. It was her 13th straight major title triumph.

Saturday’s Australian Open results

Sunday’s Australian Open order of play 

By the numbers

“Quotable …”

“Obviously it’s a great feeling. It’s five in a row for myself and Alfie here. Obviously we absolutely love playing here at the Australian Open. Yeah, thought today was a really strong performance from both teams. Obviously we’re really happy with the way we came through the match. Yeah, hopefully it’s the start of a big year for us.”

— Top-seeded Gordon Reid of Great Britain, who along with Alfie Hewett, won the AO men’s wheelchair doubles title on Friday. They defeated Japan’s Daisuke Arai and Takashi Sanada, 6-3, 6-3, in the title match.