Melbourne: Twenty-eight years after reaching her first Australian Open final, Martina Navratilova on Friday served her way into another.
Now a trim, toned 46-year-old, she partnered Leander Paes — a one-year-old baby when she lost that final in 1975 to Evonne Goolagong — to reach the mixed doubles championship decider.
It was a performance of skill and professionalism and one which rolled back the years.
Defending champions Kevin Ullyett and Daniela Hantuchova had no answer to Navratilova and Paes’s court craft, the sentimental favourites running away with it 6-3, 6-1.
Volleying superbly and serving with great authority, Navratilova put herself one step away from a 39th Grand Slam doubles title. The duo faces Australia’s Todd Woodbridge and Greek Eleni Daniilidou in the final.
Sisters lift doubles
Earlier on Friday, Serena and Venus Williams gave another demonstration of their stranglehold on women’s tennis by defeating second seeds Virgina Ruano Pascual of Spain and Argentina’s Paola Suarez 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the doubles.
The second seeds won the first set after breaking Serena’s opening serve and led 3-1 in the deciding third when the Americans suddenly raised their levels, and reeled off the last six games to lift their second Australian Open title in three years.
Complaint of racism
A complaint of racism has been lodged with public prosecutors after a Flemish radio station Q-Music allegedly described Venus and Serena as monkeys, a report from Brussels said.
The comments are reported to have been made after the American sisters won the Australian Open semis this week.
Belgian listener, Pierre van Doorne, lodged a complaint with the public prosecutor in Antwerp, accusing the station of inciting racial hatred.