Doubles title slips from grip of young guns

TENNIS

Australian underdogs Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua have gone down fighting as Italian top seeds Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani clinched the Australian Open women's doubles title.

The Italians added the championship to last year's French Open and US Open trophies with their 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 win.

Barty and Dellacqua could have been the first all-Australian women's pair to win their home major since 1977, with no local duo in the final since that year.

They had to overcome an extreme experience gulf compared to the Italians, particularly 16-year-old Barty, who had played just one grand slam doubles match before this tournament and had never won a main draw match in a major in either singles or doubles.

It seemed set to be smooth sailing for the world's top-ranked doubles players when they raced through the first set and even more so when Dellacqua's serve was broken for the third time in the match to give the top seeds a 2-1 lead in the second.

But the Australians grabbed their first break in the next game and broke Errani again for a 5-3 lead, with Barty playing the leading role, before serving out the set.

The Australians further bolstered hopes of an unlikely victory when they claimed another break of serve to open the third set.

But the favourites stepped up the pressure, breaking back immediately, then after the set was squared at 2-2, ripping through the last four games for the loss of just six points.

Barty and Dellacqua were the first all-Australian pair to reach the final since 1977, with Dianne Fromholtz and Helen Gourlay taking the title in January of that year while Evonne Goolagong Cawley and Gourlay reached the final in December of that year but it was washed out. AAP

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