MELBOURNE, Australia – No.5 seeds Andreja Klepac and María José Martínez Sánchez moved through to the last 16 of the doubles at the Australian Open with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Jelena Ostapenko and Sorana Cirstea.
The first seven games were all won on serve without so much as a hint of a break point before the unseeded duo rattled through their opponents to take a game against the head and move within four points of the set.
They then raced into a 40-0 advantage in the following game only to squander all three opportunities to put the opener to bed. Another arrived on advantage but that was also missed, and they were punished as their opponents won a grueling game to draw back level.
From that position, the Slovenian-Spanish partnership had the momentum and did their utmost to make their doubles nous count as they picked off the next two games to complete the turnaround and take the set.
The unseeded pairing showed greater power in their locker – they hit seven aces to one against – but they were also more erratic, as their seven double faults paid testimony to.
A break at the start of the second set hinted that they might yet have a say in the outcome of the match, but they were immediately broken back as the more experienced doubles duo produced a four-game streak to regain the upper hand.
Indeed, after going 2-0 up, there was always a sense that Ostapenko and Cirstea, who received fine backing from the crowd, were hanging on by a thread. That snapped in the final game as the Romanian netted a simple volley and then hit long on match point, sealing their fate.
Next for the victors is a date with American duo Kaitlyn Christian and Asia Muhammad, who moved through, 7-5, 7-5 against Shuko Aoyama and Lidziya Marozava.
Friday’s doubles action was headed up by No.1 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, who moved steadily past the Australian combination of Monique Adamczak and Jessica Moore, 6-4, 6-4.
They will face Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka in the third round after the Belgian-Belarusian pairing built on their victory over No.15 seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Demi Schuurs by overcoming Veronika Kudermetova and Sabrina Santamaria, 7-6(3), 6-2.
Also in the top quarter of the draw, Samantha Stosur and partner Zhang Shuai won a lengthy first set tiebreak before seeing off Hsieh Su-wei and Abigail Spears, 7-6(6), 6-2.
The big casualties of the day were No.6 seeds Lucie Hradecka and Ekaterina Makarova, who saved four match points as they rallied from 6-3 down in a second-set tiebreak before eventually losing out, 6-4, 7-6(8) to Irina Bara and Monica Niculescu.
Safe passage was assured by the other favorites elsewhere.
No.4 seeds Nicole Melichar and Kveta Peschke moved past Nadiia Kichenok and Wang Yafan, 6-4, 6-3, while No.7 seeds Letisha Chan and Chan Hao-ching defeated Jiang Xinyu and Wang Qiang, 6-2, 6-3.
Finally, Kirsten Flipkens and Johanna Larsson, who are seeded 13th, beat Harriet Dart and Anett Kontaveit, 6-2, 6-4.