Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic continued to uphold their status of being the third seeds and the defending champions, putting up a very strong performance to seal their spots in the semifinals of the WTA Finals Shenzhen as the Hungarian-French pairing started their campaign with consecutive victories.
This time, they were able to defeat the very difficult pairing of Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Demi Schuurs, triumphing in straight sets after a complicated start. Groenefeld and Schuurs had previously stunned the top seeds Mertens and Sabalenka in their opening round-robin match but failed to replicate their upset as they faded off after a promising start.
Babos and Mladenovic, solid at the baseline and smart at the net as always, hit 18 winners to just 16 unforced errors throughout the match and put up a clean performance in the second set. Groenefeld and Schuurs were lost tactically, having the same number of errors but only finding a meagre nine winners.
Babos and Mladenovic claim the confident win
After grabbing the biggest victory in their partnership which started only in February, Groenefeld and Schuurs stepped up to the occasion and came out of the blocks firing; hitting the ball confidently and attacking the net consistently. They were able to fend off multiple break points and provided a stern test for their opponents.
Excellent work by Schuurs at the net allowed their team to draw the first blood and found the first breakthrough, earning the golden opportunity to serve out the set. However, moments of excellence from Babos at the baseline saved themselves from the brink, allowing her team to save two crucial set points which proved costly for the underdogs.
Four consecutive games came and went, all going in favour of the third seeds as they completed the impressive comeback to grab the opening frame 7-5.
Groenefeld and Schuurs threatened to produce a fightback when they surged out to an early 2-0 lead in the second set, finding the rhythm and securing the momentum shift. However, from there it was just one-way traffic as Babos and Mladenovic rattled off 24 of the next 31 points to seal the confident 7-5, 6-2 win after just an hour and 13-minutes of action.