Death, taxes, Novak Djokovic… and Barbora Krejcikova/Katerina Siniakova.
While they may not be a household name like Djokovic, the dominant No. 1 Czech doubles team has become just as bankable at grand slams over the last few years. And now people are starting to take notice.
The Czech team claimed their 7th major doubles title at the 2023 Australian Open in convincing fashion.
After dropping a set in their opening round match, Krejcikova and Siniakova blitzed through the rest of the field in straight sets for the next five rounds.
Their closest straight-set contest came in the finals against the savvy Japanese duo, No. 10 Aoyama and Ena Shibahara, in a decisive 6-4, 6-3 victory.
With a 24-0 record in grand slam play over the last two years, Krejcikova and Siniakova have won the last four consecutive majors they have played together since the 2022 Australian Open. They are the first team to win back-to-back Australian Open titles in nine years since Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci won in 2013-2014.
With a win at this year’s Roland Garros, the Czechs would complete the “Serena Slam” and hold all four majors at the same time. At ages 27 and 26, respectively, it doesn’t appear they will be slowing down anytime soon.
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What Makes Them So Good?
As with any good doubles team, a successful partnership requires chemistry and balance. Krejcikova and Siniakova are close friends off the court and have played together for over 10 years dating back to their junior careers. Just like a fine wine, sometimes the best doubles teams require a bit of aging to bring out their best.
On the court, their energy and game styles complement each other perfectly. Siniakova plays with a fast, fiery, and fearless mentality. She hovers over the net with intention, waiting to pounce on her opponents or cross any minute when she gets the opportunity.
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Her doubles aggression isn’t limited to net play, either. A top 50 singles player in her own right, she owns one of the best backhands in the women’s game and never shies away from a crosscourt backhand baseline war. Siniakova’s only kryptonite? Her rollercoaster of emotions.
“She’s really fast, she’s not afraid, she always runs straight to the net, hits a big backhand from the baseline, and can dominate the rallies with her backhand. Sometimes I don’t like when she’s swearing too much and doing the crazy stuff she does, but I understand it’s part of her game and that’s just how it is. Often it helps her to let the energy out, so I just try to stay calm and let her do what she needs to do.“Barbora Krejcikova on her doubles partner, Katerina Siniakova
Krejcikova, on the other hand, plays with a calm, cool, and collected mentality that steadies out Siniakova’s ups and downs. Solid off both wings, she slightly prefers her forehand and can direct it just about anywhere she wants. This baseline variety helps mix up the pace, keep opponents off the net, and allows Siniakova the prime opportunity to swoop in for the kill.
“I really like to be on the net when Barbora is on the baseline hitting her forehand. She can make it fast, she can slow it down, or hit a lob. I’m really confident to help her at the net because I know she can stay in the rally, and I can wait for the right shot. If she stays strong on the baseline, I can do my job on the net.”Katerina Siniakova
Having all of the proper weapons in your toolkit is only half the battle; knowing when and how to use them is the other half. The Czech team has a very high doubles IQ and adjusts their strategy well based on their opponents’ game. This knack for strategy was put on full display during the Australian Open final when they successfully neutralized Aoyama at the net.
Instead of returning one-up and one-back, both players stayed back and often hit heavy topspin lobs to keep Aoyama from poaching aggressively at the net. Utilizing the lob was an essential tactic that Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula failed to execute in the previous round in their straight-set loss to Aoyama and Shibahara.
Where Are Their Rivals?
Apart from their strong doubles DNA, you could also attribute the Czech team’s success to a lack of any current long-standing rivals. The WTA doubles landscape has experienced a significant shakeup at the top of the game this decade.
At the 2022 WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Krejcikova and Siniakova were the only returning team who qualified at the 2021 year-end championships.
What happened to the other teams? Some teams split up, while others were sidelined with injuries or took time away from the court last year.
Veronika Kudermetova and Elise Mertens, who defeated the Czechs in a tightly contested championship match at the 2022 finals, have since ended their partnership. Other top doubles players, including Gaby Dabrowski, Yifan Xu, Demi Schuurs, and Nicole Melichar-Martinez, have been consistent top 10 threats over the last five years but have switched partnerships multiple times.
In 2022, Americans Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula established themselves as the No. 2 doubles team on tour with a strong debut year together that included three titles and a runner-up performance at Roland Garros. Their only meeting with Krejcikova and Siniakova came in a disappointing 6-2, 6-1 loss at the WTA Finals, where it was clear their game styles did not match up in the Americans’ favor.
Perhaps the toughest opponent for the Czech team last year was Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Ellen Perez, an American-Aussie duo who teamed up midway through the year and caught fire during the North American hardcourt summer swing.
In 2022, they finished 1-2 against Krejcikova and Siniakova, with one win in Cincinnati and two tight three-set losses at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
While Melichar-Martinez and Perez have a bigger upside than most of the top WTA doubles teams that can threaten the Czechs, they can be prone to lapses in performance. At this year’s Australian Open, they bowed out early in the second round in a surprising three-set loss.
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Chasing WTA History: How Many Majors can the Czechs Win?
With seven doubles majors under their belt, Krejcikova and Siniakova now hold the second most women’s doubles major titles among active players behind Venus Williams. In the Open Era, they are no. 5 on the all-time slam winners list behind Navratilova/Shriver (20), Fernandez/Zvereva (14), Williams/Williams (14), and Ruano Pascual/Suarez (8).
In the last few years, Krejcikova and Siniakova have steadily chipped away at our sport’s biggest achievements.
In 2021, they won an Olympic doubles gold medal in Tokyo and the year-end finals. In 2022, they captured the career grand slam by winning their first U.S. Open title.
Are they poised to win the elusive calendar slam in 2023 and continue climbing up the WTA doubles charts? Without any imminent rivals during the prime of their career, the sky’s the limit for the foreseeable future.
But if you ask them, they aren’t worried about the record books.
“We don’t think about being in the history books. It’s either going to happen or it won’t happen. We are hungry for more and we bring energy every time we step on the court.”Katerina Siniakova