Errani & Vinci Edge Black & Mirza

Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci led three Grand Slam-winning teams into the doubles semifinals of the Australian Open. Also, one of the best teams in the world made its first Grand Slam semifinal.

Published January 21, 2014 12:12

Errani & Vinci Edge Black & Mirza
Roberta Vinci, Sara Errani

MELBOURNE, Australia - Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci held off a major threat in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, beating reigning Tokyo and Beijing champions Cara Black and Sania Mirza.

The No.6-seeded Black and Mirza, who won the first two tournaments they ever played together last fall at the two aforementioned Premier-level events and made the quarterfinals here without losing a set, nearly outlasted the No.1-seeded Errani and Vinci but ended up falling in three sets, 62 36 64.

Next up for Errani and Vinci are No.4 seeds Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik, who rallied from a double break down in the third set to beat Jarmila Gajdosova and Ajla Tomljanovic, 75 46 64.

Errani and Vinci are three-time Grand Slam champions together, winning the French and US Opens in 2012 and the Australian Open in 2013, while Peschke and Srebotnik captured Wimbledon together in 2011. But while the Italians may have more Grand Slam hardware, the Czech-Slovenian duo has had the upper hand when it comes to their head-to-head - they have won all five previous meetings.

Another Grand Slam-winning team - Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, who won the French Open last year and are the No.3 seeds here - had what was probably the toughest match of the day, splitting sets and then edging No.7 seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Safarova, 62 26 76(4).

Awaiting them in the semifinals are No.8 seeds Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears, who ended the dream run of Shahar Peer and Sílvia Soler-Espinosa, 64 60. Peer and Soler-Espinosa pulled off the upset of the tournament in the second round, picking off No.2 seeds Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai.

Kops-Jones and Spears are one of the most talented teams out there and have already accomplished a lot at regular WTA events - eight WTA doubles titles together, including four at Premiers - but they have now scored their first Grand Slam semifinal, bettering their previous best results at majors, a pair of quarterfinals at the 2008 US Open (where they fell to Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual) and Wimbledon in 2012 (where they fell to fellow Americans the Williams sisters).

"We are very excited to be in our first Grand Slam semifinal," Kops-Jones said of the pair's new personal best. "We will enjoy every second of it and give it our all. Every match is tough in its own way, and we expect our opponents to play well. If we focus on us, everything will work out."

Kops-Jones and Spears have clashed with Makarova and Vesnina just once before, in the quarterfinals of Beijing a year and a half ago, with the Russian duo prevailing in a match tie-break, 64 36 101.

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