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Dellacqua and Barty on the brink of history

10 June 2017

TENNIS: Casey Dellacqua and Ashleigh Barty are one win away from an historic French Open triumph after marching into the women’s doubles final in Paris.

Dellacqua and Barty extended their claycourt winning streak to nine matches with a 7-5 4-6 6-3 semi-final victory over Czech sixth seeds Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova to become the first all-Australian women’s pairing to make the title match at Roland Garros in 46 years.

Now the Fed Cup teammates have the chance on Sunday to atone for several grand slam near misses and become the first all-Aussie team to land the women’s title in the French capital in the near half-century era of professional tennis.

They will play top seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova – 6-4 6-2 winners over the great Martina Hingis and Yung-Jan Chan in the second semi-final – after recording all sorts of milestones with Friday’s three-set success.

Runners-up at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open in 2013, Dellacqua and Barty are also the first Aussie partners in the open era to qualify for all four women’s grand slam doubles finals – and only the fourth pair ever after Margaret Court achieved the feat three times in the 1960s with Judy Dalton, Lesley Bowrey and Robyn Ebbern.

Dellacqua is hoping for third time lucky in Paris after losing the 2008 championship decider with Italian Francesca Schiavone and the 2015 final with Kazakh Yaroslava Shvedova in three sets to Mattek-Sands and Safarova.

Having also lost the 2015 US Open final with Shvedova, Dellacqua has fallen painfully short in all six of her previous attempts to capture a grand slam women’s doubles crown.

The 32-year-old does, however, already own a French Open title, having won the mixed event in 2011 with American Scott Lipsky.

After rejoining the tour last year following a two-year sabbatical and sporting switch to cricket, Barty is also eyeing a breakthrough on the pro tour after first announcing herself as a future star with Wimbledon junior singles glory aged just 15 in 2011.

Australia’s only winners of the French Open women’s doubles in the open era have been Alicia Molik (in 2005 with Mara Santangelo), Samantha Stosur (in 2006 with Lisa Raymond), Wendy Turnbull (in 1979 with Betty Stove) and Court (in 1973 with Virginia Wade).

Court and Judy Tegart in 1966, two years before the game went professional, were the last all-Australian pair to win the women’s title, with Helen Gourlay and Kerry Harris losing in 1971 to French duo Gail Chanfreau and Francoise Durr.

AAP/Tennis Australia

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