Doubles action continued through midnight on the opening day of action at the WTA Finals Shenzhen, held in its new home for the first time. Two-time Major champion and defending finalist Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova had a tough year, and things looked rough ahead as their opponents for their first match in Shenzhen were Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yi-fan, a team who has defeated them twice this year.
Dabrowski and Xu came into the match as the favourites, considering their 2-0 lead in the head-to-head record and the fact that Xu can build on her home support. The match started close to midnight with still a decent number of loyal tennis fans staying for the action after a long day of tennis with all three previous matches going the distance.
Determined to end this quickly, Krejcikova and Siniakova produced a wonderful performance, arguably one of their bests this year, to stun the fourth seeds 6-4, 6-2 in just 66 minutes of action. Aggressive from the baseline and crafty at the net, the Czechs hit 19 winners to just 10 unforced errors while Dabrowski and Xu were too erratic, mishitting on 14 occasions while finding just six winners.
Dabrowski and Xu will chase for their first WTA Finals win together, having won just a combined six games in their past appearances in Singapore, against Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai, who was on the losing end in the match earlier. Krejcikova and Siniakova will take on the other winners of the day, second seeds Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova in a mouth-watering clash.
Krejcikova and Siniakova clinical to claim the late-night win
Krejcikova and Siniakova experienced a rough year, with the former having to endure a series of illnesses and injuries which limited the number of tournaments for the pair this season. They came into the tournament with the Linz title, their first tournament together since August, and had a shaky start to the tournament against the pair whom they lost to in Madrid and Wimbledon.
Looking loose off the ground, Krejcikova quickly settled herself into the match, and coupled with Siniakova’s excellent ball-striking abilities, they grabbed the first break in the third game. Dabrowski and Xu were able to strike back immediately but was too weak on their serves as they were easily overpowered at the baseline, ultimately losing their serves for the second consecutive time.
Krejcikova and Siniakova were clinical and efficient through the remainder of the set, eventually sealing it 6-4 to be halfway from the victory.
Riding on their momentum, the Czechs claimed the break in the opening game of the second set and quickly asserted their dominance over their opponents, who looked lost tactically during the match. They had the golden opportunity to find a way back into their match, but a fantastic Siniakova backhand winner and a return which was narrowly wide erased their break point chances.
Without breaking a sweat, Siniakova and Krejcikova sealed their win in style as they claimed the dominating 6-4, 6-2 win in just an hour and six minutes, being one step closer to defending their finalist points in Shenzhen.