MELBOURNE, Australia - An epic afternoon in doubles saw mixed fortunes for the top two seeds in final-set tiebreaks, as No.5 Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic defeated top seeds Latisha Chan and Andrea Sestini Hlavackova, 6-4, 0-6, 7-6(6).
On the other side of the draw, No.2 seeds Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova also shrugged off a bagel set, as they rallied for a three-set win over No.6 seeds Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yifan, 0-6, 6-1, 7-6(2).
After losing a late break advantage in the third set, Babos and Mladenovic came from 4-1 down in the final set tiebreak and converted victory on their third match point. After the top seeds saved a pair of match points to force a second chang of ends, Sestini Hlavackova missed an overhead smash into the net on the pivotal 6-6 point as Babos and Mladenovic eeked out the victory.
Makarova and Vesnina survived a first-set blitz by Dabrowski and Xu, who tasted defeat for the first time in seven matches in 2018. After falling being a break twice in the deciding set, the Russians rallied each time and were in control early in the tiebreak, thanks in part to strong play at the baseline and net by Makarova.
"Every year I think we play two hours. It was a very tough match and they played an unbelieveable first set, then we came back," Makarova said. "It was a great battle in the third set and we're so happy that we got through."
Added Vesnina "One or two points decided it, and Ekaterina played amazing at the end of the third set. She just took it and carried our whole team until the end. It's always a big pleasure when you win these kind of matches. It gives you confidence that you can win any match."
The Russians' quest to complete the career Grand Slam will continue in the semifinals, where they will face Romanian No.10 seeds Irina-Camelia Begu and Monica Niculescu, who also came from a set down to see off Americans Jennifer Brady and Vania King, 4-6, 6-2, 6-0.
No.8 seeds Hsieh Su-wei and Peng Shuai had the easiest passage through to the last four, as they surrendered just five games to Czech No.4 seeds Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova, 6-1, 6-4.
More to come...