Rajeev Ram and Barbora Krejcikova were two of the 72 players confined to their hotel rooms for 14 days at the start of their Melbourne trip. In the end, it had little impact on their ability to thrive, as they became Australian Open champions again.
The American and Czech captured their second title Down Under in three years, after dashing the hopes of home favorites Sam Stosur and Matt Ebden, 6-1, 6-4, in Saturday night's final. It marked the third straight year that Krejcikova lifted the trophy, having partnered Nikola Mektic to the crown in 2020.
In the second round, the No. 6 seeds needed to save a match point before surviving, 13-11, in a match tie-break to edge Ena Shibahara and Ben McLachlan. After taking that set, they won their next six in returning to the winner's circle together again.
"We were talking about that actually, the last time we won. I don't know if we saved a match point a couple years ago but we were getting killed in our first-round match and ended up sneaking through in a breaker and maybe another tiebreaker and we kind of got better as the tournament went on," Ram said in their post-match press conference.
"I think a little bit of experience also has some truth that you sort of find your form a little bit better. We played a few more matches and kind of got the competition under our belt, if you will."
The established duo also reached the final of their respective doubles events, with Ram still having the opportunity to double up in two ways: he and Joe Salisbury will successfully defend their title if they get past Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek. Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova finished runner-up to Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka on Friday.
"It's [an] amazing feeling. Yesterday when I did the press conference after our doubles final, I was, like, 'I really, really wish to get the third one in a row', and now it's happening," said Krejcikova.
During their hard quarantines, Krejcikova and Ram kept in touch regularly and maintained the mindset that their wealth of experience would be prepared for handling the challenging cirumstances like professionals.
"For me it was like, okay, this is day one now. What are [we] trying to do? Don't overdo it. I'm 36, I played tennis for 34 years, I'm not going to forget how to do it in 14 days," said Ram.
"It was just a matter of trying to make sure that physically and mentally you feel like you're in the right spot. And thinking about winning a tournament is way far away, just what are you going to do day by day."
Krejcikova now owns a combined five doubles majors, and Ram seeks his fourth Sunday.