The women’s doubles final of the 2018 Australian Open is tipped to be a high-quality encounter. All of the players have reached multiple Grand Slam finals while history could be broken after the match -- one pair will achieve the incredible Career Super Slam with a win here.
Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina have been clinical on the doubles alley in the past few years, claiming the Roland Garros, Wimbledon, US Open, WTA Finals titles and also became Olympic Gold Medallists in 2016. Missing from their accolades is the Australian Open trophy - an honor which has eluded them after missing out a 5-2 lead in the final set of the 2014 final. The Russians had an incredible 2016 and 2017 — triumphing in Rio, Singapore, and Wimbledon along the way.
However, they face extremely tough oppositions as the newly-reunited pairing of Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic look to continue riding their momentum and cause the string of upsets, with the aim of spoiling the party for the Russians. Babos and Mladenovic, who reached the Wimbledon final together back in 2014, will be reaching for their first Major title in women’s doubles, though the Frenchwoman claimed the 2016 Roland Garros title alongside countrywoman Caroline Garcia as well.
Coming into the final: Makarova/Vesnina
Strolling through their opening matches in straight sets, Makarova and Vesnina returned to the quarterfinals in Melbourne with a fairly solid win over the 16th seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova. A magnificent comeback followed, and despite not being at their best, they recovered from a first-set bagel before showing their absolute fight when they returned from a break down in the final set to triumph in a final-set tiebreak.
Ousting 10th seeds Irina-Camelia Begu and Monica Niculescu in another comfortable and straightforward win, they successfully sealed a spot in their second Australian Open final, with the ultimate goal of completing the Career Super Slam.
Coming into the final: Babos/Mladenovic
Mladenovic and Babos had a tricky path on their way to the final. They faced several problems in the first round, though managed to close out an impressive straight-sets victory which definitely boosted their confidence, especially for Mladenovic who grabbed her first win in few months. Recovering from a set down, the “TimiKiki” team ousted Lara Arruabarrena and veteran Arantxa Parra Santonja in a thriller.
Reaching the semifinals in Melbourne for the first time in their respective careers, Babos and Mladenovic shocked the top seeds and star pairing of Latisha Chan and Andrea Sestini Hlavackova, producing a magnificent comeback from 1-4 down in the final-set tiebreak to triumph in a high-quality contest. Their unexpected, yet amazing run continued with a thrashing of eighth seeds Hsieh Su-wei and Peng Shuai, prevailing 6-4, 6-2 after a little over an hour of play.
All four players are experienced and excellent doubles players but the huge factor in deciding the outcome of this match is pressure. On a trail to create history, Makarova and Vesnina would be struggling with their nerves but experience could prove pivotal here. Doubles is all about aggressive tennis — who could take the initiative first?
Babos and Mladenovic have the advantage with their power in this aspect, but Makarova often stuns her opponents with the angles she creates both at the baseline and the net. Similarly, we could be treated a world-class encounter with both Mladenovic and Vesnina having smart hands there, being capable of producing some impressive winners.
Match Prediction: Babos/Mladenovic d. Makarova/Vesnina in three sets
Babos and Mladenovic have been in impressive form, defeating the top seeds along the way but Makarova and Vesnina aren’t too bad either. However, the fifth seeds put in clinical performances and were more decisive in their wins, allowing them to be the slight favourites in this highly-anticipated match-up.