Elise Mertens & Aryna Sabalenka captured their second Grand Slam trophy together, beating Czechs Barbora Krejcikova & Katerina Siniakova, 6-2 6-3, to add the Australian Open women’s doubles title on Friday to the US Open trophy they won in 2019.
It's been a tough couple of weeks and I just want to thank everyone who was involved. The last couple of weeks were really great. Thanks to my partner and also the other girls. We didn't have fans for a couple of days, but I’m really glad they're back. Thanks from everyone back home supporting. I really felt it with the messages and everything. Elise Mertens
“I would say a little bit [of a] weird match,” Sabalenka told the media later. “I think in the semis we played much better.
“Today wasn’t the level which I expect, but we tried really hard no matter what. We’re just happy that we got it.”
The No 2 seeds bolstered their hard-court credentials as they won their fifth title as a team.
Between them, both pairs had triumphed at the other three majors, but the women’s doubles silverware at Melbourne Park had proved elusive.
The Belgian-Belarusian duo proved the stronger pair throughout the 79-minute affair on Rod Laver Arena, sharper on returns, smarter with placement and more measured in aggression.
“I know she can do it with her serve, it’s like I’ll just stand at the net,” Mertens said. “We had a really good couple of weeks.
“We had a tough draw actually in doubles, so we really happy that we pulled through. Some days, like today, we just kept on fighting.”
The pair fended off 10 of the 11 break points they faced during the match, with Mertens the only player on court not to drop serve.
For the two Top 20 singles players, doubles is more of a relaxation during major events, as they smiled and laughed throughout the match and collected their trophy with their signature jump, as they had in Flushing Meadows 18 months ago.
“I think it’s good not to be all stressy all the time,” said Mertens. “We have singles, and that is pretty stressy already. Then we have doubles, so we try to make it fun. But, of course, when we’re on court, we want to win.”
“From my side, I would say I was pretty relaxed on doubles,” added Sabalenka, whose thunderous serving helped propel her team through dicey patches. “I was doing whatever I want to.”
“She didn’t care about me!” Mertens laughed in response.
Mertens & Sabalenka are not planning to play this season’s remaining Grand Slam events together, however, although they may team up again at some of this year’s WTA Tour events, including Dubai and Miami.
“For sure I like to play doubles,” said Sabalenka. “I just want to try something else. But I hope if one day I make a decision to come back in doubles, I have this girl over here for me.”
“I just like to play matches,” said Mertens. “But, yeah, I mean, she can definitely try and we’ll see. If she still likes to play doubles, I’m here.”
Siniakova looked nervous early on and was struggling to find her range.
Three straight breaks in the middle of the opening set resulted in a 4-2 lead for the No 2 seeds, as the powerful Sabalenka was complimented by Mertens’ pinpoint accuracy.
A pivotal service game by Mertens, where she withstood 4 break points, was punctuated by an overhead winner by Sabalenka, stopping the string of breaks and moving them to 5-2.
Serving to stay in the set, Siniakova coughed up 3 of her 6 double faults, including on the final 2 points, to hand a one-set lead to Mertens & Sabalenka.
It took Krejcikova, who is also through to the mixed doubles final with Rajeev Ram, to snap a 5-game streak against the Czechs when she held for 1-all in the second set.
The 3rd seeds, who claimed back-to-back majors at the French Open and Wimbledon in 2018, stayed with the Belgian-Belarusian pair before Sabalenka won a 30-shot rally to again pile the pressure on Siniakova’s serve again at 4-3.
The Czechs were unable to break Mertens & Sabalenka in the second, as their forecourt ferocity was less crisp than usual and the Belgian/Belarusian pair controlled proceedings with sturdy groundstrokes.
After 7 straight service holds in the set, a strong service return by Sabalenka gave her side the decisive break at 5-3.
A marathon game followed on Sabalenka’s serve, where miscues at net saw the pair squander 3 championship points and face 3 break points, but an ace by the Belarusian brought up match point No 4, and when a Siniakova backhand flew wide, Mertens & Sabalenka bagged the trophy.
“It’s been a tough couple of weeks and I just want to thank everyone who was involved. The last couple of weeks were really great,” Mertens said during the presentation ceremony.
“Thanks to my partner and also the other girls. We didn’t have fans for a couple of days, but I’m really glad they’re back.
“Thanks from everyone back home supporting. I really felt it with the messages and everything.”