MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Timea Babos of Hungary and Kristina Mladenovic of France became the first players from their respective countries to lift the Australian Open women’s doubles crown.
Babos and Mladenovic embraced midcourt after beating Russian pair Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina 6-4 6-3 in Friday’s final at Rod Laver Arena.
It’s the first Grand Slam title for Babos, who was a runner-up to Serena and Venus Williams at Wimbledon in 2016.
Mladenovic won the 2016 French Open doubles with compatriot Caroline Garcia, and the pair combined to reach the U.S. Open final later that year.
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“Our spirit and our friendship together really helped through the two weeks because in the beginning we had some tough moments, some tough matches playing not to the level what we gave today,” Babos said.
Mladenovic said she hoped to carry the doubles success into her singles this year.
“It’s something you cannot describe in a way, it’s so emotional. When you live a moment like this, there’s no reason why it couldn’t (also) work in singles. Obviously, it’s a lot of confidence, just positivity for me,” she said.
The 24-year-old players were reunited at Melbourne Park in their first tournament together since the 2015 end-of-season WTA Finals, where they fell in the round-robin stage.
“We really separated because of the (Rio) Olympics. We actually talked about it (reunion) at the U.S. Open. I always play my best tennis with her in doubles,” Babos said.
Babos and Mladenovic rallied from a 2-4 deficit in the opening set after Babos dropped serve in the fifth game.
And they quickly fell behind in the second set when Mladenovic was broken in the opening game.
But the reignited doubles combination recovered the early deficit in the second set and broke Makarova’s serve in the eighth game to set up the victory.
The Australian Open remains the missing major for the Russian pair — they won the 2013 French Open, 2014 U.S. Open and 2017 Wimbledon and were striving to become only the sixth women’s team to complete all four doubles majors in the Open era.