MELBOURNE, Australia — Radek Stepanek and Canada’s Daniel Nestor started their new doubles partnership earlier this month with a first-round loss in Brisbane. When they teamed up again at a Grand Slam, they showed they should be a duo to be reckoned with this season.
Stepanek and Nestor made it to the men’s doubles final at the Australian Open before dropping a 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 decision on Saturday to Jamie Murray of Scotland and Brazil’s Bruno Soares.
Nestor, who recently became the first player in ATP Tour history to record 1,000 career doubles victories, thinks he and Stepanek can use their performance in Melbourne as a building block for the season.
"In the back of my mind, retiring is there. I’ve felt more athletic in the past, that’s for sure," Nestor said. "If I’m going to be away from my family a lot, I want to be playing with someone I feel I can win with. That’s how I feel with Radek.
"We will play this season. That has always been our goal."
Nestor, 43, and his 37-year-old Czech partner became the oldest team to reach a Grand Slam final in the Open era. They started off strong but couldn’t match their impressive play from the opening set.
The Toronto player, who owns a record 88 titles overall, fell to 1-4 in Australian Open finals over his career. Nestor’s last title came with Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France last year in Cincinnati.
For Murray and Soares, it was the first major title in either of their careers. Murray’s brother, Andy, will play in the men’s singles final Sunday against top-ranked Novak Djokovic.
They are the first brothers to reach the finals in the men’s singles and doubles at a Grand Slam event in the Open era. Andy Murray was in the stands at Rod Laver Arena watching the match, which didn’t finish until 1 a.m.
"Andy, you should be in bed," Murray said to his brother as he accepted the trophy on court. "I don’t know why you’re here taking photos."
Jamie Murray was runner-up at the last two majors — the 2015 U.S. Open and Wimbledon — with a different partner, John Peers. Soares becomes the first Brazilian player to win a title of any kind at the Australian Open.
The pair teamed up at the start of the year — and they’re now 12-1 after also capturing the title at the warmup tournament in Sydney and reaching the semifinals in Doha.
"It’s only one month, but I think we can retire now, huh?" Soares joked to Murray. "I’m pretty happy with what we’ve achieved so far."
Nestor and Stepanek, meanwhile, have 10 doubles Grand Slam titles between them. Nestor won here in 2002 — the first of his eight Grand Slam titles — and also reached his first major final here in 1995, both times with partner Mark Knowles. Stepanek won the 2012 title at Melbourne Park with Leander Paes.
On Saturday, they saved a match point at 4-5 and again at 5-6, but Murray and Soares closed it out on their third match point when Stepanek hit a return into the net.
"They really came through. We had them on the ropes in the second set and they hung in there," Nestor said of Murray and Soares. "They’ve been knocking on the door for several Grand Slam finals."
It has been a good tournament for Scotland overall. Not only did the Murray brothers make the finals in singles and doubles, but fellow Scot Gordon Reid won the men’s wheelchair event on Saturday over Joachim Gerard of Belgium 7-6 (7), 6-4.