NEW YORK, NY, USA - No.8 seeds Victoria Azarenka and Ashleigh Barty are into their first Grand Slam final as a team after dropping just one game against Viktoria Kuzmova and Aliaksandra Sasnovich at the US Open.
Azarenka and Barty were dominant from the start, saving all four break points faced and combining for 18 winners en route to a 6-0, 6-1 victory.
“I think it was certainly, from start to end, really clean,” Barty said in the pair’s post-match press conference. “I think we got out of some really tricky games early on, and played a great level overall. There wasn’t really anything that we weren’t happy about.
“I mean, Vika was exceptional today,” Barty added with a grin. “I was happy to just sit back there and go along with the ride.”
The pair has been a regular threat in doubles draws all year since joining forces at the Australian Open, and lifted their first trophy together at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. They also made semifinal runs at Miami and Toronto.
At the US Open, the pair needed a couple of matches to find their feet in their opening two rounds, coming back from a set down to oust Monica Niculescu and Margarita Gasparian, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 in their opener and then escaping in a third-set tiebreak against Nadiia Kichenok and Abigail Spears, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(10).
They found another level to oust the rising American duo of Coco Gauff and Caty McNally, 6-0, 6-1 in the round of 16, before facing down their biggest test of the tournament to defeat No.1 seeds Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos, 2-6, 7-5, 6-1.
With both players’ singles campaigns over - Barty fell to an on-fire Wang Qiang in straight sets in the fourth round, while Azarenka lost out to countrywoman Aryna Sabalenka in her opening match - the pair have been able to focus all of their attention on the doubles, a move that Barty said will improve their singles game.
“Obviously, coming in where singles is the priority, being able to do really well in doubles as well and enjoy our time, play some really good tennis - I think has been the best part about this fortnight,” Barty said. “Vika and I have played some really good tennis at times, and it’s only going to help our singles as well.”
For Azarenka, Sunday’s final will give her a chance to earn a first Grand Slam women’s doubles title after previously taking home trophies in singles and mixed - as well as her first Grand Slam title since becoming a mom in 2016.
“I haven’t had a title in doubles yet, a Grand Slam title. So it’s very cool for me and amazing opportunity,” she acknowledged. “This whole almost two weeks I’ve been having a lot of fun on the court, and I feel like with every match we’re getting better and better.
“I mean, you can’t ever underestimate being in a Grand Slam final. I think as a tennis player, that’s what you dream of. If it’s singles, of course, it’s always a priority but being in a doubles final is extra special. I feel very lucky to do that.”
Azarenka and Barty await the winners between No.4 seeds Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka and unseeded American duo Caroline Dolehide and Vania King, who will take the court on Friday for their semifinal.