MONTRÉAL, Canada - Two-time Grand Slam champions Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina reunited after nearly a year apart at the start of the European clay court season, winning their first title of the season at the Rogers Cup, knocking out singles champion Simona Halep and Monica Niculescu, 6-3, 7-6(5).
Halep was coming off a hard-fought win in the singles final over Madison Keys, but had little time to rest as she had to contest her first WTA doubles final with Niculescu - with whom she had knocked out top teams like French Open champions Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia.
Makarova and Vesnina had fallen to that very team in the Roland Garros final, and had seen nothing but strong results since pairing up once more at the Mutua Madrid Open, reaching the semifinals in Spain, the final at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome, and then quarterfinals of Wimbledon - where Vesnina reached the semis in singles.
"It's not easy to play Simona and Monica because Simona won singles and is having an amazing week, so confident," Vesnina said after the match. "It's the same with Monica; she won in Washington. So they're having a good run, and we didn't know what to expect because we didn't see too many matches from them.
"It was a nervous final, so we're happy we stayed tough in the big moments and we held our nerves to win this big match."
Easing through the opening set, the Russians served for the title in the 12th game of the second, but Niculescu and Halep broke to the delight of the Romanian fans in the crowd, who were eager for more tennis.
"Many Romanians here!" Niculescu exclaimed during the trophy ceremony. "Thank you for all the support!"
? Coupe Rogers (@CoupeRogers) July 31, 2016
"It's really important to start with good tennis. We did it here in this final, and it was just two great sets," Makarova said.
"The Centre court is always packed," Vesnina added when asked about the enthusiastic Rogers Cup crowds. "The Canadians really love sports and love tennis; they really respect the players so it's just great. We really enjoyed playing here."
Still, it was a banner week for Romanian tennis, with Halep winning her 10th straight match in singles and Niculescu falling one match shy of her own double after winning the Citi Open last week with Yanina Wickmayer.
"I want to thank Simona for playing with me; I cannot believe it! I had so much fun every match, we improved, and played better and better. Thanks to the tournament director for giving us this wildcard."