|Courtesy: Getty Images|
MELBOURNE , Australia . – Former Ole Miss tennis NCAA Champion Mahesh Bhupathi won his 11th career grand slam title Sunday, teaming with fellow Indian Sania Mirza to capture the Mixed Doubles Championship at the Australian Open. The pair downed Nathalie Dechy and Andy Ram 6-3 6-1 at Rod Laver Arena.
The Indian duo avenged their loss in last year’s final, dismantling the French/Israeli pairing in just 54 minutes and tallying 28 winners against just 10 unforced errors for the match.
After breaking in the first game and racing to a 2-0 lead, Mirza and Bhupathi faltered momentarily – surrendering the next three games. They regained the momentum – breaking to love in the next game and setting up a 5-3 lead.
Serving to stay in the set, Dechy and Ram faltered as Bhupathi nailed a forehand winner down the line, sealing the set 6-3 for the Indians.
The second set wasn’t even close, as they broke each player’s serve to go up 5-1 and closed it out 6-1.
"I felt I've been playing pretty well the last couple of days," Bhupathi said. "Obviously it's a huge bonus if you can play high quality in a Grand Slam final because that takes a lot of presure off. I think both of us played a very high-quality match today."
Bhupathi was also able to end the tournament on a positive note, after losing the men’s doubles final to the Bryan brothers on Saturday.
“Both my coach, trainer and obviously Sania, they were trying to keep me as positive as possible,” he said. “But, going home without a title after making two finals just crossed my mind a few too many times today in the match (laughter). But it didn’t happen. I am happy about that.”
With the win, Bhupathi earned a seventh mixed doubles Grand Slam title, including his second at the Australian Open.
While at Ole Miss, Bhupathi led the Rebels to the NCAA team finals. He became the first Rebel tennis player to win an NCAA title when he teamed with Ali Hamadeh to capture the Doubles Championship in 1995 and ended the year as the No. 1 doubles team in the nation. In addition, Bhupathi was an All-American, 1995 SEC Singles Champion and SEC Player of the Year.