Doubles No. 1s Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci fought off a spirited challenge from third seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina at the Australian Open.
The fiery Russian lefty has produced sustained success at the Australian Open over the last three years.
Two women on the comeback trail from injury saw on Monday how far they still have to go.
Once a superpower of women’s tennis, Russia fields a team with no woman in the top 100 against a loaded Italian squad.
The former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic revived her career this year and reaped the rewards by returning to Istanbul.
The petite Russian rolled toward the top in Moscow seven years ago, only to crash out of the game before fulfilling her promise.
A strange scenario unfolded at a small event in Austria this week, starring one familiar and one unfamiliar name.
Opportunity knocks in the last few weeks of the season for women on the verge of qualifying for the WTA Championships in Istanbul.
Plenty of intriguing story lines remain in the WTA after the final major of the season.