MELBOURNE, Jan 27: American Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Czech Lucie Safarova enhanced their reputation as the dominant duo in women�s doubles by winning the Australian Open title for the second time.
The second-seeded pair had to scramble from behind to eventually overwhelm Czech Andrea Hlavackova and China�s Peng Shuai 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-3 in a tense final.
It extended the pair�s unbeaten record to 12 matches at Melbourne Park � they won the 2015 doubles title in their debut as a team, but didn�t play together last year because illness forced Safarova to miss the championships.
It was their fourth Grand Slam success after also winning the 2015 French Open and last year�s US Open. Not only did Mattek-Sands strengthen her grip on the No.1 ranking and Safarova rose to a career-high No.2, the pair shared 660,000 Australian dollars ($500,000) in prizemoney.
The victors did a rehearsed dance routine on Rod Laver Arena after being presented with their trophies and held aloft the perpetual cup.
�We were celebrating like 5-year-old kids out there. When we got the trophy and saw our names on it and to know they will be on it again is special,� Mattek-Sands said. �She�s my rock out there. We play aggressive and have fun. We really balance each other out.�
It was the first meeting of the teams in which all four players have won at least two Grand Slam doubles titles.
Hlavackova and Peng, who had not dropped a set on the way to the final, took an early service break and seemed in command of the opening set.
But Mattek-Sands, 31, and Safarova, 29, were able to retrieve the situation and the set headed inevitably to a tiebreaker. Hlavackova, 30, and Peng, 31, surged to the lead and held on to close it out 7-3.
Hlavackova and Peng both lost serve to slump to 0-3 in the second set before breaking Mattek-Sands to get on the scoreboard. It proved to be merely a slight interruption for Mattek-Sands and Safarova as they powered through the second set to square the final.
The set swung on Hlavackova�s serve in the fourth game of the deciding set. After seemingly being in control, she fended off a break point and then double-faulted on the next one to give up the crucial service break.
In the mixed doubles, second-seeded Ivan Dodig of Croatia and India�s Sania Mirza will play Colombian Juan Sebastian Cabal and American Abigail Spears in the final on Sunday.
The Dodig-Mirza combination beat Australians Sam Groth and Samantha Stosur 6-4, 2-6, 10-5 in their semifinal. Cabal and Spears beat Chris Guccione of Australia and Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine 7-6 (1), 6-2. � Agencies