Australian Open: Mattek-Sands/Lucie Safarova overcome tough opponents in Babos/Pavlyuchenkova

Australian Open: Mattek-Sands/Lucie Safarova overcome tough opponents in Babos/Pavlyuchenkova

The big favourites for the title, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova, managed to overcome their tricky opponents in Timea Babos and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets to reach the quarterfinals.

don-han
Don Han

Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova defeated Timea Babos and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets to reach their second quarterfinal at the Australian Open in as many appearances together as a pair. They would next face 11th seeds Raquel Atawo and Xu Yi-fan in the quarterfinals for a place in the semifinals and look to take back the trophy they earned in 2015, which was coincidentally their first event together.

Team
Team "Bucie" in action at the Australian Open | Photo: Pat Scala/Getty Images AsiaPac

Mattek-Sands and Safarova steals the first set

The opening game of the match already saw a break of service as Babos/Pavlyuchenkova got off to a fast start. Mattek-Sands and Safarova started the match with two unforced errors at the net, showing some form of a slow start before Pavlyuchenkova hit a strong forehand winner off a strong Safarova serve to earn triple break point opportunities. A mishit forehand from Safarova then gave Babos and Pavlyuchenkova the break of service to take the early advantage in the match.

A couple of strong serves by Babos then allowed the Russian and her to take a 30-0 lead and look to consolidate the break of serve easily. However, despite owning a game point, the team “Bucie” eventually broke serve and leveled the match. Some good service placements then gave the American-Czech pair the hold to love and take the lead for the first time in the match. A second consecutive hold to love game followed before Babos and Pavlyuchenkova almost got the chance to break serve as Safarova hit two double faults in a row to put them in danger.

Mattek-Sands and Safarova would look to regain the title here | Photo: SMP Images
Mattek-Sands and Safarova would look to regain the title here | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images AsiaPac

Nevertheless, the Czech managed to gain the rhythm on her serve and held her service game to keep the set on serve. Unforced errors almost cost the American-Czech pairing a service break as Mattek-Sands’ service game was extended to deuce before Safarova hit a smart volley winner to give them a game point, which they dutifully converted to make the score 4-3 in their favour. After numerous comfortable service holds, it was Pavlyuchenkova’s serve who crumbled first, allowing Mattek-Sands and Safarova to break serve and have a chance to serve out the set. They did just so, after hitting an ace on their first set point to close out the set in a beautiful style after just 35 minutes.

Mattek-Sands and Safarova seals quarterfinal spot

Pavlyuchenkova’s woes in her service games tagged along with her to the second set as she was broken immediately in just the first game of the set to gift the American-Czech pairing the advantage right from the start. Mattek-Sands then earned a comfortable service hold and affirmed her lead in the scoreboard, leading 2-0 in the second set.

Babos and Pavlyuchenkova pose with their trophies in Sydney | Photo: Matt King/Getty Images AsiaPac
Babos and Pavlyuchenkova pose with their trophies in Sydney | Photo: Matt King/Getty Images AsiaPac

Babos and Pavlyuchenkova further lagged behind in the match as they were losing the momentum and confidence after Mattek-Sands/Safarova broke serve for the second consecutive time to have a double break lead. They looked further poised for the victory as they consolidated the break of serve with yet another comfortable service break to open up a lead of 4-0. This was when Babos and Pavlyuchenkova got onto the scoreboard with some good serves as they finally held their service game to stop the rout. Despite the hope of a bagel being extinguished, Mattek-Sands and Safarova did not seem to be affected as they held their serves to be just one game away from the victory.

It was just at the last moment when Babos and Pavlyuchenkova started to mount a comeback as they saved a match point in the process to get one of the breaks back to lessen the deficit. Four consecutive errors certainly did not help them as Mattek-Sands and Safarova sealed the victory after just 73 minutes.

Babos and Pavlyuchenkova embrace after their triumph in Sydney | Photo: Matt King/Getty Images AsiaPac
Babos and Pavlyuchenkova embrace after their triumph in Sydney | Photo: Matt King/Getty Images AsiaPac
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