Underdogs win doubles title
Svetlana Kuznetsova (File)
Melbourne - Unseeded Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva won the Australian Open women's doubles crown on Friday, coming from behind to beat Italian pair Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani in three sets.
The Russians overcame a poor start from Zvonareva in particular to win the title 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena, but were quick to downplay any implications for the Olympic Games later this year.
Vinci and Errani are Fed Cup stalwarts for Italy and have won all five Fed Cup doubles matches they have played. Kuznetsova and Zvonareva rarely play together and only decided to team up for Melbourne at the last moment.
"I think we decided the night before sign-in was closing," Kuznetsova said. "Because we focus on singles, sometimes I go to a grand slam and I don't know if I'm going to play or not in the doubles."
Zvonareva insisted they weren't thinking of the Olympics when they opted to play doubles in Melbourne.
"It's not our main focus," she said. "Long-term, you know, we don't know. It depends because we have so many great players that can play good in singles and doubles.
"And I think both of us, we will try to make it to the Olympics in singles. That's the most important thing. If we get chosen for doubles, we get chosen. "
The Russians started slowly with the Italians looking far more comfortable early on with superior movement and better teamwork.
Vinci and Errani were deadly at the net, intercepting the powerful ground strokes of the Russians and winning points with deft volleys.
Kuznetsova had to work overtime to keep the Russians in touch as her partner struggled in the face of aggressive play from the Italians.
The Italians grabbed the first set in almost an hour, but were unable to capitalise on Zvonareva's serving woes in the second and the Russians equalised after Errani was broken serving at 4-5.
Vinci and Errani suddenly looked flat and struggled to cope with the relentless power of their opponents.
They went down an early break as Zvonareva finally began to find some form and were unable to peg it back, Kuznetsova serving out for the win on their third match point.
The title is the second grand slam doubles crown for both Kuznetsova and Zvonareva, although with different partners. Zvonareva also has two mixed doubles titles.
Kuznetsova won in Melbourne in 2005 with Australian Alicia Molik, while Zvonareva captured the US Open a year later alongside Frenchwoman Nathalie Dechy.