Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka, winners of three of the seven biggest tournaments this year, have successfully qualified for the WTA Finals Shenzhen for the first time in their careers in the first year of their partnership. It has been an incredible year for Mertens and Sabalenka, who are two accomplished singles players but teamed up to form a formidable force, becoming one of the few dominant teams on tour.
Mertens and Sabalenka, in just their second and third tournaments together, achieved a stunning feat which most of the previous greats were unable to. A fantastic March saw them lifting the titles at both the BNP Paribas Open and Miami Open, sealing the “Sunshine Double” with 10 consecutive wins.
They went on to reach the semifinals at Roland Garros and the last eight at Wimbledon, before stunning everyone, including themselves, to prevail at the US Open by capitalizing on their favourable draw. This triumph saw them become the second team on the Porsche Race to Shenzhen leaderboard, with Mertens rising to the number two ranking as well.
Ironically, Mertens ended her partnership with Demi Schuurs at the end of 2018 to focus on her singles career, but her occasional partnership with Sabalenka ended up being more successful than anyone could have expected. Both Mertens and Sabalenka are also chasing for a singles spot at the WTA Elite Trophy, held in Zhuhai a week prior to the main event in Shenzhen.