Flavia Pennetta became the first Italian to lift an Australian Open trophy on Friday when she won the women’s doubles with Argentina’s Gisela Dulko.
The pair weathered a furious onslaught from Russia’s Maria Kirilenko and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus to win 2-6, 7-5, 6-1. Both players’ maiden Grand Slam doubles title came in their first major final together.
Pennetta and Dulko had looked in serious trouble as Kirilenko and Azarenka began strongly, dominating their opponents powerful groundstrokes, and they were quickly down a set and a break.
Azaranka served for the match at 5-4 but the top seeds broke back and then won three games in a row to level the match at one set each.
From that point the resistance was broken as Azarenka in particular struggled against the consistency of the Italian-Argentine pair.
Dulko and Pennetta broke early in the decider then ran away with it to wrap up victory in 2hr 11min, yelling in delight and hugging each other as Azarenka crashed the final backhand into the net.
The win means Dulko remains as the world’s top-ranked doubles player while Pennetta stays second.