THE winning run of Australia's dynamic duo, Casey Dellacqua and Ashleigh Barty, came to an end yesterday when they were defeated in the Australian Open women's doubles final by Italy's champion pair Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci.
Adding to their 2012 French and US open titles, the No.1 seeds won 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 at Rod Laver Arena. But, the Aussie pair had every reason to be proud of their efforts, as they pushed the Italians to the limit after initially looking out of their depth in the opening set.
WA's Dellacqua and Queenslander Barty, who had won all their matches leading up the final in straight sets, hit back hard in the second set when breaking their opponents twice.
"We were only just starting to work them out as they play a distinctive style of doubles," Dellacqua said. "And neither of us had played them on the doubles court before."
Dellacqua and Barty were the first all-Australian pair to reach an Australian Open doubles final since Evonne Goolagong and Helen Gourlay won the women's title in 1977.
The last time an Australian reached a doubled final was in 2006 when Sam Stosur partnered the USA's Lisa Raymond in the women's in 2006.
And at just 16, Barty became the youngest finalist at any grand slam event - be it singles, doubles or mixed doubles - since France's Tatiana Golovin in 2004.
"She's 10 years younger than me but makes me feel young," said Dellacqua, a French Open mixed doubles champion in 2011. "She's such a great kid and I feel so relaxed with her. We've had such a blast, such an exciting tournament."
Barty, who won last year's Wimbledon girls crown, in turn, thanked her older partner.
"This is by far the best month of my career. It's been an unbelievable journey," she said. ''It felt like we were really close in that match, closer than the score shows."
This is by far the best month of my career. It's been an unbelievable journey. It felt like we were really close in that match, closer than the score shows.
After the $237,500 windfall after fininshing runners-up, the pair plans to play together again at the next three grand slams, at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows.
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