The Australian Open title will be the last grand slam doubles crown for some time for Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka with the pair declaring they won’t play this year’s remaining majors together despite their rich reward in Melbourne.
Belgian Mertens and Sabalenka, from Belarus, swept past Czech duo Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova in Friday’s women’s doubles final, winning 6-2 6-3 to claim their second grand slam title and $600,000 in prize money to share.
The second-seeded pair won the US Open crown in 2019, beating Ash Barty and Victoria Azarenka in the final, during their first year as a doubles combination.
But they revealed they won’t play in the majors together next year, with world No.7 Sabalenka wanting to focus her energy on singles.
She was eliminated in the Open fourth round by Serena Williams while Mertens, ranked 16, fell to giant-killer Karolina Muchova at the same stage.
“We’re not going to play grand slams (in doubles),” 22-year-old Sabalenka said.
“I want to put more focus on singles, so a little bit less doubles.
“I know that doubles, it’s not that hard, but it still takes a lot of energy and I just want to save it for singles.
“I just want to try something different this year and see what happens on the grand slams.”
The pair did say they would continue to team up at some Premier level tournaments including Miami.
The duo took advantage of a shaky serving display by Siniakova, who sent down six double faults in her two service games in the opening set.
She looked to have found her range in the second set to remain in the hunt until the eighth game when she was broken for the third time and was in tears after the match.
Sabalenka and Mertens had too much strike power from the back of the court for the third seeds while Sabalenka also did major damage with her serve.
She tightened up while serving in the final game, missing her first two championship points, but the duo wrapped it up on their fourth chance.
Krejcikova will get another chance at glory, partnering American Rajeev Ram in the final of the mixed doubles against Australians Samantha Stosur and Matt Ebden on Saturday.