Bengaluru, January 25: Indian ace Rohan Bopanna and his new Ukrainian partner Nadiia Kichenok started their Australian Open 2020 mixed doubles campaign on a winning note, beating Nadia's twin sister Lyudmyla Kichenok and her American partner Austin Krajicek 7-5, 4-6, 10-6 in the match which was decided by the super tie-breaker in Melbourne on Saturday (January 25).
Bopanna and Nadiia will next face US-Brazilian pair of Nicole Melichar and Bruno Soares in the second round of the mixed doubles event on Sunday (January 26), which is incidentally the 'Australia Day'.
Bopanna was supposed to pair with Sania Mirza initially. But following her pull out midway through the tournament, Bopanna decided to partner with Nadiia, for the first tie in his career.
It may be recalled that Mirza's first Grand Slam outing after maternity leave also ended with an early exit as the Indian ace retired mid-way into her women's doubles first-round match due to a calf injury. After that she had also pulled out from the mixed doubles event to protect her calf from a strain.
Other than Bopanna, wholost in the doubles opening round, experienced campaigner Leander Paes is the only other Indian left in the fray of the first Grand Slam tournament of the season. Paes is pairing up with 2017 French Open women's singles champion Jelena Ostapenko.
Partnering Yasutaka Uchiyama of Japan, Bopanna went down to USA's Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike, 1-6 6-3 3-6 in a hard-fought one hour, 17 minutes contest.
Later Divij Sharan and his New Zealand partner Artem Sitak went down in straight sets to Brazilian-Croat pair of Bruno Soares and Mate Pavic in the doubles second round.