Rajeev Ram can check another major goal off his list.
The 2002 Carmel High School graduate and the Czech Republic’s Barbora Krejcikova won the Australian Open mixed doubles title by beating John Patrick-Smith and Astra Sharma 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 in the championship Jan. 26. It was Ram’s first Grand Slam title.
“It’s something that I had really thought about a lot,” Ram said. “It’s something to get off my back. It’s not men’s doubles where I hope to win a few. It’s nice to be at the end of the tournament and come out a winner.”
Ram, 34, is believed to be the first tennis player from Indiana to win a Grand Slam championship.
Ram and Krejcikova, who split $185,000 for the title, previously played in the 2017 Australian Open, losing in the first round.
“We decided to play again and it worked out really well,” Ram said. “We both managed to play well and pick up the other person at the right time. When the other person wasn’t feeling their best, the other partner was able to pick up the slack and get through those moments.”
Krejcikova is ranked No. 2 in the world in women’s doubles and ended 2018 ranked No. 1. Ram, ranked No. 21 in men’s doubles, won the silver medal in mixed doubles with Venus Williams in the 2016 Rio Olympics. He followed that up by reaching the U.S. Open mixed doubles final with CoCo Vandeweghe in 2016.
“She won Wimbledon and the French Open (women’s) doubles last year, so she’s been in that position. I hadn’t won a major championship but I’ve been in one and the Olympics, so I think our experience helped us,” Ram said.
Ram would like to pair with Krejcikova again. Mixed doubles are only played in the four Grand Slam events each year.
“She is still playing singles and it’s difficult to play three events in a Grand Slam, so it will depend on her schedule and mine,” Ram said. “If it works out, we would definitely play together again.”
Ram only started playing mixed doubles regularly in the last few years after giving up competing in singles in 2018. Ram and Great Britain’s Joe Salisbury, who plan to play together all year, lost in the Australian Open’s third round to the eventual champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.
“If we keep the level we played at in Australia, I think we have the opportunity to make the World Doubles at the end of the year,” Ram said.
Ram’s best Grand Slam finishes in men’s doubles were reaching the semifinals in the U.S. Open (2014) and Wimbledon (2016).