MADRID, Spain - Six years after reaching their first final at the Mutua Madrid Open, Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina are now champions at the Caja Magica.
The top-seeded Russians came from a set and a break down to defeat Australian Open champions and No.3 seeds Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic in a match tiebreak, 2-6, 6-4, 10-8 in Saturday's championship to secure their first title of the season and sixth Premier Mandatory crown as a duo overall.
The five-time major champions trailed 6-2, 2-0 in the match before winning six of the next eight games to send the final to a deciding tiebreak, where they led 3-0 but trailed 7-5 at the final changeover.
Makarova and Vesnina had faced Babos and Mladenovic in or en route to their previous two finals of 2018, as they finished runner-up to them at the Australian Open, but defeated them in the semifinals of Indian Wells.
The victory is a full circle moment in the Russians' decorated doubles career thus far, as their runner-up showing to Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci in Madrid in 2012 was the first final they reached as a pair.
"To win this title with my partner, it makes it so special," Vesnina said in the trophy ceremony. "It all started here - and we finally won this title. We're always having fun, and enjoying our time. We've had so many wins together, and this one was very, very difficult. We couldn't believe in the end that we won - we thought it was still going, and it was very exciting."
Six years later, they are within striking distance of rising to the World No.1 ranking, as they will sit just 230 points behind Latisha Chan as co-World No.2s in Monday's rankings.
However, the Russians are not focused on a rise to the rankings' summit, with Vesnina commenting after their first round victory that they haven't spoken about the milestone "not even once."
Added Makarova: "We don't think about that. We just try to play, and if we stay longer in tournaments, it'll happen - so we just take it match by match."
More to come...