South Africa’s Liezel Huber with partner Zimbabwe’s Cara Black have claimed the Australian Open women’s doubles crown at Melbourne Park with a 6-4 6-7(4) 6-1 victory over rising talents Yung-Jan Chan and Chia-Jung Chuang of Chinese Taipei.
After winning the 2005 Wimbledon doubles title and falling in the final of Roland Garros in the same year, the African pair marked their return to the winners’ circle in emphatic fashion.
And despite the pair being taken to three sets before winning the Australian Open title, Black, speaking at the post-match press conference, said it was simply pleasing to win.
"I think a lot of expectation was on us. We were the No.3 seeds and really we didn’t know what to expect of them," she said. "You never know playing them for the first time.
"We regrouped and stuck together and I think that was the major part of today."
Huber, meanwhile, admitted the pair had been nervous midway through the match before overcoming the Chinese Taipei combination.
"Because it is a final, that’s why we were so tight," said Huber. "By far, if you had seen any of our other matches this was the tightest that we played.
"It doesn’t matter if it was ugly like it was today, that is what we are here for."
Chan and Chuang, the first Chinese Taipei pair to make a Grand Slam final said they were disappointed not to have been able to climb the final hurdle.
"I think they changed in the third set and put us under pressure," said Chan. "We are a little bit disappointed.
"We just did our best."
Squaring off on the sun-drenched Rod Laver Arena on Australia Day, the No.3 seeds looked ominous from the outset.
Taking the first set in 39 minutes, Black and Huber edged ahead after capitalising on two service breaks to Chan and Chuang’s one.
Hitting only one unforced error in the first set, the African pair proved too good, winning 36 points to gain the ascendancy.
Then, after an even start to the second set, it was again Black and Huber who strode out to a 4-2 lead on the back of an early service break.
However, despite squandering a spate of break-points in response, Chan and Chuang finally had something to celebrate about when they squared proceedings up shortly after, before taking a 5-4 lead.
But just as things looked heading toward a deciding third set, Black and Huber exacted another service break to grasp the contest by the horns.
Up 6-5 and serving for the match, the African pair, though, was broken and Chan and Chuang, mounting a stellar comeback, went on to claim the second set with their second set point in the ensuing tiebreaker.
Serving first in the third set and clearly reeling after dropping the second, Black and Huber easily held their own service game and then broke Chan and Chuang to race to a 2-0 lead.
Further compounding the Chinese Taipei pair’s increasing woes, Black and Huber firmly wrestled control of the match in the subsequent games with another service break to take a 4-0 lead.
Finally, while trailing 0-5 in the final set, Chan and Chuang managed to thwart a championship point and hold serve to delay the imminent victory for their opponents, albeit briefly.
But moments later and serving for the match, the African pair made no mistake with their second championship point to claim the title in two hours and 10 minutes.