AUSTRALIAN OPEN - Makarova and Vesnina started the Career Grand Slam quest

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AUSTRALIAN OPEN - Makarova and Vesnina started the Career Grand Slam quest

2016 Olympic champions Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina won their debut match in the doubles draw 6-4 6-4 against fan favouite Eugenie Bouchard and Sloane Stephens. Bidding to complete the career Grand Slam having already won the title at the 2013 French Open, the 2014 US Open, and 2017 Wimbledon, the Russian pair hit 22 winners, more than their opponents, converting five of seven break point chances.

Vesnina started tyhe season adding to her “dream team the former ATP World No.20 Dmitry Tursunov who helped her during the pre-season and was with her also in Sydney before flying to Melbourne. “He knows a lot of details about tennis: the feel, the movement, the spin on the ball.

Even simple stuff, which, it’s tough to kind of surprise me, but even that, he brought a couple of really important elements” she said to the WTA. With her longtime friend and partner Makarova, they were finalists in back in 2014 when they led Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci 5-2 in the third set before falling to the Italian duo.

Today they went a break up in the second set but Makarova shockingly dropped her next service game to 4-4. When Stephens went long, they regained a crucial lead to advance to the second round where they will meet the American duo of Lauren Davis and Alison Riske or Croatia's Petra Martic and Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova.

On the other side of the draw, top seeds Latisha Chan and Andrea Sestini Hlavackova started their quest for win their first Grand Slam title as a pair after the retirement of Martina Hingis, with an easy 6-3 6-0 win over Han Xinyun and Ling Chen.

Hlavackova, an Australian Open finalist last season alongside Peng Shuai, teamed up with the elder of the Chan sisters who won a staggering nine titles in 2017, including the US Open, pairing with Hingis. An all-Chan sister affair is on the rise in a projected quarterfinal, as No.8 seeds Chan Hao-Ching and Katarina Srebotnik opened with a first round win 7-6((3) 6-4 against CoCo Vandeweghe and Laura Robson.

The No.4-seeded team of Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova eased past the British suo of Naomi Broady and Anna Smith 6-2, 6-1 in 51 minutes. The No.8 seeds, Hsieh Su-wei of Chinese Taipei and Peng Shuai, the 2013 Wimbledon and 2014 French Open champion, coming back together for the first time since 2016, defeated Romania's Mihaela Buzarnescu and Argentina's Maria Irigoyen, 6-3, 7-5.

The No.9 seeds, Slovenia's Andreja Klepac and Spain's María José Martínez Sánchez, lost 6-3 6-3 to Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland and Nina Stojanovic of Serbia, wile the 12th seed Raquel Atawo of the United States and Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany got a comfortable win over Australian wild cards Astra Sharma and Belinda Woolcock 7-6(2) 6-3.

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