Mattek-Sands, Safarova win second Australian Open doubles title
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) American Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Czech Lucie Safarova enhanced their reputation as the dominant duo in women's doubles by winning the Australian Open title for the second time.
The second-seeded pair had to scramble from behind to eventually overwhelm Czech Andrea Hlavackova and China's Peng Shuai 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-3 in a tense final.
It extended the pair's unbeaten record to 12 matches at Melbourne Park - they won the 2015 doubles title in their debut as a team, but didn't play together last year because illness forced Safarova to miss the championships.
It was their fourth Grand Slam success after also winning the 2015 French Open and last year's US Open. Not only did Mattek-Sands strengthen her grip on the No.1 ranking and Safarova rose to a career-high No.2, the pair shared 660,000 Australian dollars ($500,000) in prizemoney.
The victors did a rehearsed dance routine on Rod Laver Arena after being presented with their trophies and held aloft the perpetual cup.
''We were celebrating like 5-year-old kids out there. When we got the trophy and saw our names on it and to know they will be on it again is special,'' Mattek-Sands said. ''She's my rock out there. We play aggressive and have fun. We really balance each other out.''
It was the first meeting of the teams in which all four players have won at least two Grand Slam doubles titles.
Hlavackova and Peng, who had not dropped a set on the way to the final, took an early service break and seemed in command of the opening set.
But Mattek-Sands, 31, and Safarova, 29, were able to retrieve the situation and the set headed inevitably to a tiebreaker. Hlavackova, 30, and Peng, 31, surged to the lead and held on to close it out 7-3.
Hlavackova and Peng both lost serve to slump to 0-3 in the second set before breaking Mattek-Sands to get on the scoreboard. It proved to be merely a slight interruption for Mattek-Sands and Safarova as they powered through the second set to square the final.
The set swung on Hlavackova's serve in the fourth game of the deciding set. After seemingly being in control, she fended off a break point and then double-faulted on the next one to give up the crucial service break.
In the mixed doubles, second-seeded Ivan Dodig of Croatia and India's Sania Mirza will play Colombian Juan Sebastian Cabal and American Abigail Spears in the final on Sunday.
The Dodig-Mirza combination beat Australians Sam Groth and Samantha Stosur 6-4, 2-6, 10-5 in their semifinal. Cabal and Spears beat Chris Guccione of Australia and Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine 7-6 (1), 6-2.