Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonaryova won the Grand Slam in doubles series at the Australian Open. On Friday they defeated the Italian duet Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci seeded 11 at the championship - 5:7, 6:4, 6:3.
It’s not the first victory at the Australian Open in doubles for Kuznetsova. In 2005 she became champion with the Australian player Alicia Molik. In 2004 she with Elena Likhovtseva reached the finals in Melbourne. Kuznetsova also played in the Roland Garros-2004 finals (with Likhovtseva) and Wimbledon 2005 (with French player Amélie Mauresmo), at US Open 2003 (with the American player Martina Navratilova) and in 2004 (with Likhovtseva).
For Zvonaryova it the first title in women doubles at the Australian Open, but she was winner in some other Grand Slam tournaments. In 2006 she won the US Open with the French player Nathalie Dechy. At Wimbledon-2010 she reached the finals with Elena Vesnina.
WHAT A BIG TROPHY!!!! CONGRATULATION
The Russian duo of Kuznetsova and Zvonareva have 18 Grand Slam finals between the two of them in singles, doubles and mixed doubles over the years and became the first unseeded team to win at Melbourne Park since the Bondarenko sisters did so in 2008.
“You can't compare this,” Kuznetsova said of this Grand Slam in comparison to other tournaments. “You never can compare.”
It was a match that exemplified a trend in tennis this year: two pairs of countrywomen banding together. With the 2012 Olympics on the horizon, players are pairing up with compatriots as they attempt to prepare for the London Olympics.
Kuznetsova has found victory in Australia before: In 2005, she paired with Australian Alicia Molik to win the title here. Both she and Zvonareva won their second career major doubles title; Zvonareva paired with Frenchwoman Nathalie Dechy to win the US Open in 2006.
The Russian duo had made an impressive run to the final by beating defending champions Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta in the third round. They had also taken out No.6 seeds Sania Mirza and Elena Vesnina in the semifinals.
Kuznetsova and Zvonareva proved to be too good for the Italian duo also. After dropping a first set that was filled with breaks (the set had seven in total), Errani and Vinci couldn’t find their way against the pesky Russian pair.
In the eighth game of the second set Kuznetsova and Zvonareva broke at love for a 5-3 only to see their opponents break back immediately. Kuznetsova used quick hands to smack a backhand volley winner crosscourt to level the match at one set all.
They would break to go up 2-0 in the third set when a lob from Errani went long, giving them the lead they needed to see through the match. It was Kuznetsova who displayed some excellent skill in the closing points of the two-hour, 18-minute match as the rallies intensified. The Russians had to save four break points in the final game, including one where Kuznetsova scrambled to rip a backhand winner crosscourt.
After Zvonareva missed an overhead smash on their first championship point she didn’t hesitate two points later, crushing a ball that Vinci could merely get her strings on. The Russians both raised their arms in victory before embracing. Their pairing had been a last-minute – and rather fruitful – decision.
“I think we decided the night before sign in was closing,” Zvonareva said, the two girls giggling.
“We both wanted to do better” following the first set,” Kuznetsova said. “We needed ... to improve our game. I think we [were] just talking about finding the right key. I think we did it in the middle of second set. We found the right game, what was good for us.”
It has been a banner tournament for Errani, the 24-year-old Italian who made a surprise run to the quarterfinals in singles. She beat established players such as Nadia Petrova, Sorana Cirstea and Zheng Jie before being stopped by Petra Kvitova in the last eight.
Errani and Vinci were quarterfinalists at the US Open last year, bettering that result here just four months later.
Neither Kuznetsova nor Zvonareva, both well-known singles players, made it deep in the singles draw this year, losing in the fourth and third rounds, respectively. As for the Olympics, the team was uncertain on if they would try and play together.
“When we [signed] in to play doubles here, we weren't thinking about it,” Zvonareva said. “If we get chosen for doubles, we get chosen. Like I said, it's a very tough competition in our country and we just have to play it by the ear.”
Winning a grand Slam at the beginning of the year, it is good motivation .
I guess, they will win other trophies this year.