MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Top-ranked Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova have taken another major step in a partnership that began in the junior ranks when they won the Australian Open in women’s doubles 6-7 (3 ), 6-4, 6-4 Sunday from unseeded Anna Danilina and Beatriz Haddad Maia.
The Czech pair won their first Australian Open title with a Wimbledon title and two French Open titles to move closer to a career Grand Slam in doubles. They are also Olympic champions.
The seeds have been fully stretched by Danilina of Kazakhstan and Haddad Maia of Brazil who set up their partnership less than a month ago and were unbeaten in nine matches heading into Sunday. They won the Sydney Classic doubles title before tackling their first Grand Slam tournament together.
Danilina and Haddad Maia became the first pair to take a set from Krejcikova and Siniakova in Melbourne and kept the final alive for 2 hours and 42 minutes before finally succumbing.
Krejcikova and Siniakova’s well-functioning partnership was rocky at times on Sunday before experience pulled them through. Siniakova was more active in the first two sets while Krejcikova seemed unusually stuck on the baseline and less mobile than usual at net.
Krejcikova stepped up in the final set and produced plenty of key points, striking hard in midfield as Siniakova crossed the net for clutch volleys.
Siniakova served for the match at 5-2 in the third set but Danilina and Haddad Maia undeniably broke her serve.
Haddad Maia held serve in front of cheering fans waving Brazilian flags before Krejcikova scored the serve victory.
“You have played two great tournaments and I hope you will continue together and I hope we have more fights like this because it is a real pleasure to share a court with you,” said Krejcikova. “You are truly amazing.
“I also want to thank my partner for playing with me for a very, very long time. I’m so happy that we always work so well together and our cooperation is only growing, so I’m really happy about that and I looking forward to the next adventure.
Siniakova thanked Krejcivoka for his support during recent tough times.
“Thank you for pushing me hard and helping me and just being by my side on the pitch,” she said.
The top seeds fell behind in the first set when Siniakova’s serve was broken in the third game. They equalized, breaking Danilina in the eighth game and Siniakova and Danilina lost serves again before the set turned into a tie-break.
Danilina and Haddad Maia earned the first six points in the tiebreaker and held on comfortably to win the set.
Haddad Maia dropped serve in the opening game of the second set and Krejcikova and Siniakova held on to that advantage to tie the match. They also beat Haddad Maia for an early advantage in the deciding set before their unseeded rivals battled to extend the game.
Haddad Maia had already suffered a loss in the final to Krejcikova and Siniakova, losing to the pair in the final of the French Open juniors.
“We weren’t supposed to play together again this week,” she said, speaking to Danilina. “I think we gave our best in all matches. I think we had eight games in the third set so we gave it our all and I’m very proud to learn with you.
“Congratulations to Barbora and Katarina. I faced you 10 years ago in the junior final of Roland Garros and I also lost. But you’ve been doing a good job all these years.
Danilina was a star at the University of Florida, winning an NCAA title with the Florida Gators before earning an economics degree in 2018.
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