MELBOURNE, Australia - The Australian Open doubles final will be a rematch of the French Open doubles final from last year, after Italians Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci and Russians Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina battled past some stern semifinal opposition on Wednesday.
Makarova and Vesnina, the No.3 seeds, were the first team to move through to the final, edging No.8 seeds Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears, 75 36 63. Makarova and Vesnina came through when it really mattered during the match - they clawed out of a 4-1 hole to sneak out the first set, then finished strong too, reeling off three games in a row from 3-all in the third set to wrap up the victory.
Kops-Jones and Spears, one of the most successful doubles teams on the tour the last few years, were playing their first Grand Slam semifinal. Their previous best was two Grand Slam quarterfinals.
The No.1-seeded Errani and Vinci overcame a psychological block in their semifinal, beating No.4 seeds Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik for the first time in six career meetings, 61 64. Errani and Vinci came out firing - they stormed out to a 61 41 lead - and while Peschke and Srebotnik closed the gap to 5-4 in the second set and were up 30-0 in that game, the Italians made one last push to end it.
Peschke and Srebotnik, who have had some incredible results together - including winning Wimbledon in 2011 - reunited at the start of the 2014 season and are sure to be a threat throughout the year.
But this time it's Errani and Vinci and Makarova and Vesnina who will fight for Grand Slam glory, and both teams are Grand Slam champions as well - Errani and Vinci won the French and US Opens in 2012 and the Aussie Open last year, while Makarova and Vesnina won the French Open last year.
Errani and Vinci lead the head-to-head against Makarova and Vesnina, 4-2, but there's an asterisk there - that head-to-head was 4-0 a year ago, with the Russians closing in after wins in last year's French Open final (75 62) and in the semifinals of the WTA Championships in Istanbul (46 75 103).
There's another thing on the line - if Errani and Vinci win they'll stay co-World No.1s in doubles, but if Makarova and Vesnina win then Vesnina will become No.1 and Makarova will move to No.2.