MELBOURNE, Australia - No.2 seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina will open their quest for a career Grand Slam at the Australian Open against Eugenie Bouchard and US Open singles champion Sloane Stephens, as the doubles draw for the year's first major was released on Sunday.
The Russian tandem were finalists in back in 2014 when they led Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci in the third set, 5-2, only to fall in pursuit of their first title Down Under. They later went on to win the US Open that season and claimed the Wimbledon title in 2017 to go along with a 2013 title at Roland Garros.
On the other side of the draw, top seeds Latisha Chan and Andrea Sestini Hlavackova will look to win their first Grand Slam title as a pair after the retirement of Martina Hingis, and the Taiwanese-Cezch pair will open their tournament against Han Xinyun and Ling Chen.
Hlavackova reached the final of the Australian Open last season alongside Peng Shuai, while the Chan sisters were bundled out in the opening round.
Shortly after, the elder Chan in Latisha teamed up with Hingis; the duo won a staggering nine titles in 2017, including the US Open.
An all-Chan sister affair could be on the cards in a projected quarterfinal, as No.8 seeds Chan Hao-Ching and Katarina Srebotnik anchor the bottom of the top quarter with a first round match against CoCo Vandeweghe and Laura Robson.
Should Makarova and Vesnina want to lift their first trophy Down Under, they'll have to get through a half that also features home favorites and No.3 seeds Casey Dellacqua and Ashleigh Barty; No.6 seeds and Sydney International champions Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yi-fan; and WTA Finals runners-up Kiki Bertens and Johanna Larsson, the No.7 seeds.
Barty and Dellacqua will open their tournament against recent Hobart International champions Demi Schuurs and Elise Mertens, as the 2013 runners-up look to build on their quarterfinal showing from a year ago - in which they were the recipients of a wildcard as Barty began her return to top-level tennis.
Elsewhere, Dabrowski and Xu, the projected quarterfinal opponents for Makarova and Vesnina, begin their campaign against Kirsten Flipkens and Francesca Schiavone, while Bertens and Larsson open against Nadiia Kichenok and Anastasia Rodionova.
The top half of the draw is rounded out by No.4 seeds Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova, as Safarova looks to defend the title she won with Bethanie Mattek-Sands a year ago, and No.8 seeds and former World No.1s Peng Shuai and Hsieh Su-wei.
Peng and Hsieh, former French Open and Wimbledon champions, reunited last week at the Sydney International for the first time in four years.
After Peng and Hsieh dropped their opener in Sydney, the 32-year-olds will look to get back to their winning ways against Mihaela Buzarnescu and Maria Irigoyen in the first round, while the Czechs begin their tournament against Brits Anna Smith and Naomi Broady.