MELBOURNE, Australia - For the second time at the Australian Open, and third time overall as a team, Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic are Grand Slam champions.
The No.2 seeds needed just 72 minutes to record a resounding 6-2, 6-1 victory over top seeds Barbora Strycova and Hsieh Su-wei in Friday's women's doubles final to be crowned the first major champions of the new decade.
A near-carbon copy of last fall's championship match season-ending Shiesido WTA Finals Shenzhen, won by Babos and Mladenovic with the loss of just four games, saw the No.2 seeds in command for almost the duration of the match inside Rod Laver Arena.
"It's obviously always a tough warm-up to go out there and play another final. I think we're just handling it better and better each time we go on court for such a special moment, for these special matches," Babos said.
"We had great memories from last time we played them, that's for sure. That was the final of the Masters in Shenzhen. We really controlled that match, played very well - the same as today. We had a plan which we really wanted to stick to.
"They tried technically everything. They stepped up their game I think compared to the last match. I really think it was a lot tougher one. I think it's just amazing the way we're working together and how we handled the situations together."
The two teams traded breaks of serve early on in the opener, but from 2-2 in the first set, Babos and Mladenovic hardly looked back in their third consecutive championship appearance Down Under.
The French and Hungarian duo won four straight games to take a one-set lead, and ultimately won 10 of the final 11 games of the match to return to the winners' circle, having won the title in Melbourne in 2018 and finished as runners-up last year.
Though the top seeds held Hsieh's serve to open the second set, Babos and Mladenovic's momentum was never slowed, as they broke Strycova on their fourth opportunity in a lengthy third game.
The former World No.1s did not lose a set in the tournament, and broke serve six times by winning nearly 60 percent of the points on return in the final.
"I think the way we match together, it's really tough to beat. Not only the connection we have tennis-wise, because I think our game really fit well, the emotional connection wouldn't be enough," Babos continued.
"This gives an extra boost for every single match we play. We all have our ups and downs. We had it here, both of us. Still each match we went there and we gave our best and helped each other. At the end it turned out pretty solid because we went all the way without dropping a set. That actually never happened to us. That's also something new.
"The way we are together and the way we are just fitting together, I think it's pretty much becoming unbeatable. We're best friends, and everything we do, we do it together. It just makes things easier."
The 2020 Australian Open trophy joins both the 2018 crown, and the trophy from the 2019 French Open, on Babos and Mladenovic's mantle. The French player also owns a pair of Slams in mixed doubles, and the 2016 French Open title with Caroline Garcia.
"We both lost pretty early in the tournament in singles. It's tough because we are competitors. We wanted to do better. It's not always easy to kind of stick around and keep working and believing. It's the beginning of the season, so you expect much of yourself," added Mladenovic.
"It makes it just so much easier to have your best friend by your side because you can fulfill those long days of work [with] a best friend or family around, I'm very grateful."
Despite the defeat, Hsieh is set to return to the top of the WTA doubles rankings following the Australian Open, overtaking her partner for her second career stint as World No.1.