In a complete contrast to the men's and women's singles title winners at the Australian Open, both of whom were the top seeds, the victors in the women's doubles event were a complete surprise package for the Melbourne crowds. In much the same manner as the men's equivalent was won by an unseeded partnership, so it was also the case in the women's doubles as Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova came out on top. Their debut as a pair saw them take a Grand Slam title, as they beat the Chinese duo of Chan Yung-jan and Zheng Jie 6-4 7-6.
Defying the often held belief that doubles is a speciality discipline, not only had the new pairing not played together before the Australian Open started, they had not even practiced together. Mattek-Sands was being totally honest when she said: "Actually, we didn't even really know which side we were going to play". It mattered not though in the end, as they became the first debut pairing to take a title at a Slam event since Nathalie Dechy and Dinara Safina achieved the same feat at the 2007 US Open.
They have had to battle back against adversity and injury just to be in Melbourne, with the multi-coloured and ebullient American Mattek-Sands missing six months last year as she recuperated after surgery to her hip. Indeed, she wasn't even sure that the first Slam of the year was a realistic target until close to the event itself.
The pairing came about due to Safarova's coach being a friend of Justin Mattek-Sands, Bethanie's husband. Although slightly sceptical at first about the 'plan' to pair up for the Slam, Safarova and Mattek-Sands seemed to click straight away when they played together for the first time. They also share a fondness for Earl Grey tea, a similarity that gave them something to work with when deciding whether to come together or not.
Safarova has a past pedigree as a singles' player, with the Czech lady having reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year and the quarter-finals in Australia in 2007. She has also played doubles in Slams before with other partners, but has failed to progress beyond the quarter-finals previously. Her partner, Mattek-Sands has tasted victory at the Australian Open before, when she took the mixed-doubles title with Romania's Horia Tecau in 2012. #Tennis