MELBOURNE, Australia - No.4 seeds Nicole Melichar and Kveta Peschke came through the tightest first-round match on the opening day of doubles play at the Australian Open, squeezing past Tatjana Maria and Heather Watson 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.
The US-Czech duo had kicked off 2019 by winning their third title together in the past year, lifting the trophy in Brisbane, and would break their opponents three times in a dominant opening set.
But Maria and Watson hit back, with the former breaking Peschke in the seventh game of the second set with a forehand winner and eventually forcing a decider. This would also be decided by just one break of serve - in the final game, with Watson conceding her delivery.
The Wimbledon runners-up were joined in the second round by the team who had defeated them in that final - as well as sweeping Roland Garros last year to finish 2018 as the doubles World No.1s. Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova began their quest for a maiden Australian Open title efficiently with a 58-minute 6-2, 6-2 victory over Ana Bogdan and Anastasia Rodionova. It was a fifth straight win for Siniakova, who won Sydney last week alongside Aleksandra Krunic while Krejcikova was otherwise occupied in the singles qualifying competition here.
No.6 seeds Lucie Hradecka and Ekaterina Makarova also progressed smoothly with a 6-3, 6-3 defeat of Mona Barthel and Sofia Kenin. Makarova, last year's runner-up with Elena Vesnina, has joined forces with the returning Czech while her former partner takes maternity leave, and the new pair already have the Cincinnati title to their names.
No.5 seeds Andreja Klepac and María José Martínez Sánchez were forced to a second-set tiebreak by local wildcards Destanee Aiava and Naiktha Bains before pulling through 6-2, 7-6(6) - but Tokyo champions and No.14 seeds Miyu Kato and Makoto Ninomiya were upset by Nao Hibino and Desirae Krawczyk 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, becoming the only seeded pair to fall on the first day.