Everything you need to know ahead of the doubles final of the first Slam of the year.
Alex Macpherson
January 25, 2018

LEARNING

No.2 seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina are going for the Career Slam in doubles today. Previously, the Russian duo had won Roland Garros 2013, the 2014 US Open and Wimbledon 2017. They would be the sixth team in the Open Era to accomplish this feat, joining Kathy Jordan and Anne Smith, Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver, Gigi Fernández and Natasha Zvereva, Serena and Venus Williams, and Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. In addition, Makarova and Vesnina won Gold at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, and were also the WTA Finals champions that year.

No.5 seeds Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic are bidding for their first Grand Slam title together. As a pair, they have won three WTA titles - Dubai, Marrakech and Rome in 2015 - and reached one previous Slam final (Wimbledon 2014, losing to Errani and Vinci). Mladenovic has one Slam doubles crown (Roland Garros 2016 alongside Caroline Garcia - defeating Makarova and Vesnina in the final) and two mixed doubles trophies (Wimbledon 2013 and the 2014 Australian Open, both with Daniel Nestor) to her name so far. Babos has been a Slam runner-up three times (twice in doubles, once in mixed doubles).

Makarova and Vesnina lead the head-to-head between the two teams 1-0, scoring a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 victory in the 2015 Wimbledon semifinals.

While Makarova and Vesnina are former runners-up in Melbourne and Mladenovic is a former semifinalist (in 2017, alongside Garcia), this is the first time Babos has progressed beyond the third round. However, the Hungarian is a former junior doubles runner-up here - in 2010, she and Gabriela Dabrowski fell to Jana Cepelova and Chantal Skamlova in the final.

Both teams have dropped two sets en route to the final - and both were bagelled in quarterfinal matches eventually won in third-set tiebreaks. Makarova and Vesnina survived No.16 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova 7-6(2), 6-7(4), 6-2 in the third round and No.6 seeds Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yifan 0-6, 6-1, 7-6 (2) in the last eight; Babos and Mladenovic fended off Lara Arruabarrena and Arantxa Parra Santonja 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the second round and No.1 seeds Latisha Chan and Andrea Sestini Hlavackova 6-4, 0-6, 7-6(6) in the quarterfinals. In total, both finalists have dropped the same number of games: 116.

Babos and Mladenovic have reunited in Melbourne for the first time since the 2015 WTA Finals, where they fell in the round-robin stage. That year, they finished at No.11 and No.9 in the rankings respectively.

TRENDING

READING

The second singles semifinal of the day was a ferociously contested classic between Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber - Simon Briggs at the Telegraph writes that it was arguably the "match of the tournament".

Elena Vesnina is on the verge of the Career Slam in doubles - find out the Russian's playlist to pump herself up for matches at ESPN.com.

ORDER OF PLAY

ROD LAVER ARENA (not before 4pm)

Timea BABOS (HUN) / Kristina MLADENOVIC (FRA) [5] vs Ekaterina MAKAROVA (RUS) / Elena VESNINA (RUS) [2]

See the full Order of Play for Day 12.

WATCHING

Karolina Pliskova's press conference after losing her quarterfinal to Simona Halep was one of the most candid of the tournament - find out how she analysed her tactics and what her expectations are in the future.