MELBOURNE, Australia - The No.5 seeded team Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos survived a scare from the unseeded Spanish duo of Lara Arruabarrena and Arantxa Parra Santoja, but stayed on track to reach the third round at the Australian Open.
Babos and Mladenovic were regular doubles partners up until a few years ago and have plenty of experience as a duo; together they reached the 2014 Wimbledon doubles final and captured titles at Dubai, Marrakech and Rome in 2015.
The Australian Open the pair’s first tournament together in several years, and they needed a while to find their rhythm against Arruabarrena and Parra Santoja, who were partnered together for much of the later half of 2017.
The Spaniards found joy on the Babos serve in the first set, breaking her twice to build up a 4-1 lead and once more to close out the opening set. The Hungarian redeemed herself by lending her quick hands at the net to help grab a break back, she couldn’t hold on as she served to keep the No.5 seeds in the set.
In the second set, it was Babos who recorded the crucial service hold to give her team the edge after six breaks of serve - including five in a row - to leave the No.5 seeds with their nose in front.
It was much tighter in the third, where both teams had chances to take the lead but stayed on serve until the very end, with Mladenovic and Babos creating three match points before finally breaking through to claim the match after nearly two hours on court.
Through to the last 16, Mladenovic and Babos will take on Viktorija Golubic and Nina Stojanovic, who edged past Kateryna Bondarenko and Aleksandra Krunic 7-6(0), 6-2 earlier in the day.
Also into the third round, Czech duo Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova def Zarina Diyas and Magda Linette 6-4, 6-2 - they’ve earned a matchup against the No.2 seeded Russian pair Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina.
Nadiia Kichenok and Anastasia Rodionova edged past Kristyna Pliskova and Donna Vekic 1-6, 6-3, 7-6(2), while No.11 seeds Yang Zhaoxuan and Shuko Aoyama defeated German pair Mona Barthel and Carina Witthoeft 6-1, 7-5.
Sorana Cirstea and Beatriz Haddad Maia also had to make a turnaround, coming back from a set down to oust No.15 seeds Alicja Rosolska and Abigail Spears 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. No.13 seeds Nicole Melichar and Kveta Peschke had an easier time, trouncing Madison Brengle and Monica Puig 6-2, 6-2.