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Doubles triumph for Italians Errani and Vinci

by Vivienne Christie
Saturday 5 July 2014

Having claimed every other Grand Slam doubles together, it was only natural that Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci would wish to complete their Grand Slam collection at Wimbledon. They did so convincingly with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic in the final today, becoming only the fifth pair in history to win every Major title.

Not only that, but Errani and Vinci are the first Italians to win a senior title at the All England Club in 128 editions of the tournament.

“Unbelievable. I mean, no words to tell you what it is for us,” Errani said of the pair’s Grand Slam sweep. “We were thinking about that all the day, all the morning. (It) is very special.”

Experience was arguably the difference in the 56-minute win. The Italians, who are close friends, had already won 19 tour titles as a pair and were playing their 258th match together; Babos and Mladenovic, by contrast, were contesting only their third event as a team and 13th match, having reached the final of Paris earlier this year and fallen in the first round in Birmingham.

The first blows were struck early by the second seeds, Errani and Vinci racing to a 3-0 lead when neither Babos nor Mladenovic could hold their opening service games. They’d surrender one of those breaks on Errani’s serve, but as Vinci imposed at the net and her partner backed up from the baseline, they soon claimed that first set in 27 minutes.

Also friends since juniors and born just four days apart in May 1993, the Hungarian and French pairing had reason to be confident against their more-experienced opponents, having defeated top-seeded defending champions and recent French Open champions Su-Wei Hsieh and Shuai Peng 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 in the third round.

For a brief period in the second set, the tournament’s No. 14 seeds appeared capable of inflicting similar damage. With Mladenovic, winner of the 2013 Wimbledon mixed doubles title, using her 6ft frame to cover the net more effectively, Babos showed the skills that had helped her claim the 2010 girls’ doubles title with Sloane Stephens.

They stayed with their opponents for the first five games, but a wild forehand mis-hit from Mladenovic put pressure on Babos’ serve. A couple of points later, the Italians had secured the break and were soon the 6-1, 6-3 victors.

“I think we play perfect,” said Errani. “They were serving so strong. It was not easy, but she played unbelievable returning, serving, volleys, everything. We were like very aggressive all the time. That was the important thing for us, that we try to do it all the two weeks. Was perfect.”

Aged 27 and 31 respectively, Errani and Vinci can’t quite say how long they’ll continue to dominate but it seems as long as they’re playing doubles it will be together. In the third round at Wimbledon, the Italians fought hard to save five match points against Ukraine twins Lyudmyla and Nadiia Kichenok.

“Well, we always say this: we are very good friends. We are like really a team together all the day with our families, our coaches. We are really a big team always. Not only for double, but also when we are in the tournament for singles,” said Errani of the successful partnership.

“I think is very important this. We help each other very much. We know how to help the other. We know each other. It is important also when you go on the court."

Joyfully rolling around Centre Court – a spontaneous reaction, they say – highlighted just how much this Wimbledon victory meant to them. It’s unsurprising, then, that they’re already looking forward to defending their title in 2015.

“I start very young playing, but never imagine to do this in doubles with my best friend,” said Errani. “Of course (there) is no words.”

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