Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke, both veterans in doubles, managed to successfully qualify for the year-end WTA Finals for the first time together as a pair. At the age of 42, this will be Peschke’s sixth appearance at the prestigious tournament having reached the semifinals twice and being the runner-ups for an incredible three times. (Note: Previously, the WTA Finals only had four doubles team qualifying with the tournament starting in the semifinal stage.) Surprisingly, despite reaching a career-high doubles ranking of 7 back in 2006, this will be Groenefeld’s first ever appearance at the year-end Championships.
Groenefeld and Peschke have had an impressive season thus far, having reached the quarterfinals in 11 of 22 tournaments played this year. Their only title came at the J&T Banka Prague Open, storming to the title as the second seeds after beating the top-seeded Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova in the final.
Clay court delight
They also earned some other excellent victories during the clay court season, defeating the Chan sisters, Hao-ching and Yung-jan, in the opening round of the Volvo Car Open where they eventually reached the semifinals before falling to the then-top pairing Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova. Groenefeld and Peschke managed to reach four consecutive quarterfinals on clay before suffering early exits in Rome and Paris.
Reaching the Wimbledon semifinals
The pair got off to a very slow start to the grass court season, falling in the second round of the Mallorca Open to the unseeded pairing of Nicole Melichar and Anna Smith, before being totally outclassed by Martina Hingis and Chan Yung-jan in the quarterfinals of the Eastbourne International. Nonetheless, they bounced back in the best possible way as they came out of nowhere to make the semifinals of the Wimbledon Championships, beating nemesis Chan/Hingis along the way.
Sealing their spot in the finals
Having already fallen to Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in the last four at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Peschke and Groenefeld once again outclassed Chan/Hingis before beating the all-Czech pairing of Barbora Strycova and Lucie Safarova to reach the final of the Rogers Cup held in Toronto. However, they were still unable to break the duck against the Russians, falling to Makarova/Vesnina in straight sets once more. Although they have been unable to replicate similar results from then on, Groenefeld and Peschke’s impressive results earlier in the year were enough to qualify them for the WTA Finals.
The 2017 WTA Finals would begin on the 22nd of October, with the doubles competition only starting on Thursday of that week. Doubles will utilize a knockout format, with no round-robin stage which therefore means the teams have to start playing their best tennis from the first point onwards. Other qualified pairings include Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina, Martina Hingis/Chan Yung-jan, Ashleigh Barty/Casey Dellacqua, Lucie Hradecka/Katerina Siniakova, Timea Babos/Andrea Hlavackova and Gabriela Dabrowski/Xu Yi-fan.