PARIS, France - Those who enjoy seeing the favorites flourish are surely enjoying the French Open doubles event this fortnight, as the Top 4 seeds have all made the semifinals for the first time at a Grand Slam since 2009 Wimbledon and the first time at Roland Garros since 1996.
In both of those cases, the No.4 seeds went on to the title - a good omen for Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina. The Russians were 64 61 winners over No.10 seeds Kristina Mladenovic and Galina Voskoboeva on Wednesday, exacting revenge for a defeat in the quarterfinals of Madrid last month. Makarova and Vesnina have yet to drop a set this tournament and have matched their best outing at a Grand Slam - a semifinal showing at January's Australian Open.
Up next for Makarova and Vesnina are second-seeded Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka. The Czechs withstood the day's biggest test, in pulling out a 26 76(3) 64 triumph over Cara Black and Marina Erakovic in which they lost five more points than they won. Nevertheless, it was their 40th Grand Slam win and made the 2011 Roland Garros champions 14-1 in their last 15 French Open matches. Hlavackova and Hradecka only mustered five games against Makarova and Vesnina in their only previous clash at Madrid last year.
Also moving on were No.1 seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, 75 61, over Varvara Lepchenko and Zheng Saisai. It was the Italians' 10th straight win here and made them 29-2 in Grand Slam play since the start of 2012. During that time, they were runners-up at the 2012 Australian Open, champions at the 2012 French Open, quarterfinalists at 2012 Wimbledon, champions at the 2012 US Open, champions at the 2012 Australian Open and at least semifinalists here.
In Friday's semifinals, Errani and Vinci will take on third-seeded Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik. The Russian-Slovenian duo were 63 63 victors over 11th-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Lucie Safarova and have surrendered just 19 games all fortnight - best of the semifinalists. They have split their two previous meetings with Errani and Vinci, getting the best of them in January's Sydney final but falling short in February's Doha final.
In mixed doubles action, No.5 seeds Mladenovic and Daniel Nestor and Hradecka and Frantisek Cermak booked spots in Thursday's final. Czech pairing Hradecka and Cermak were runners-up at this year's Australian Open.