Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic extended their winning streak to nine matches on Wednesday when they began their bid to capture a third consecutive title. The second seeds struck 31 winners, including 10 aces, past Yen-Hsun Lu and Sam Querrey in a 7-6(4), 6-3 victory at the start of their Australian Open campaign.
The Croatian tandem, a new team for the 2021 season, come into the first Grand Slam championship of the year on the back of lifting ATP Tour titles at the Antalya Open (d. Dodig/Polasek) and last week’s Murray River Open (d. Chardy/Martin).
The 27-year-old Pavic won the 2018 Australian Open with Oliver Marach. Mektic, 32, captured the 2020 Nitto ATP Finals crown in November alongside Wesley Koolhof.
They will next challenge Americans Mackenzie McDonald and Tommy Paul, who got the better of Greek wild cards Stefanos Tsitsipas and Petros Tsitsipas 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in one hour and 45 minutes. The Tsitsipas brothers hit 29 winners, including eight aces, but were broken twice in the deciding set.
Sixth seeds Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, who reunited for the 2021 season, worked hard to extending their winning streak to five matches. The British-Brazilian team, who captured the Great Ocean Road Open crown (d. Cabal/Farah) on Sunday, saved one set point at 5/6 in the first set tie-break of a 7-6(6), 6-3 victory over Marcos Giron and Cameron Norrie in 85 minutes. The 2016 Australian Open titlists now face Laslo Djere and Stefano Travaglia, who were 6-3, 6-4 winners over Australian wild cards Andrew Harris and Alexei Popyrin.
Eighth-seeded Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, who completed the Career Grand Slam by capturing the 2019 Australian Open doubles crown, lost just six of their service points in a routine 6-2, 6-3 win over Gianluca Mager and Yoshihito Nishioka in 66 minutes.
Tenth seeds John Peers and Michael Venus came through 6-3, 6-2 over Australians Alex de Minaur and Matt Reid for a second-round meeting against Ji Sung Nam and Min-Kyu Song. The South Koreans knocked out Rohan Bopanna and Ben McLachlan 6-4, 7-6(0). Peers won the 2017 Australian Open with Henri Kontinen.
Last year’s finalists, Max Purcell and Luke Saville, the Australian No. 15 seeds, got off to a strong start by breaking four times in a 6-3, 6-3 win over Guillermo Duran and Albert Ramos-Vinolas in 65 minutes. They now face their compatriots, Matthew Ebden and John-Patrick Smith, who were 6-7(1), 6-4, 6-4 victors over Pablo Cuevas and Guido Pella in two hours and three minutes.