The first winner-takes-all clash at the 2019 WTA Finals was a doubles match between this year's Australian Open champions Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai, and two-time Major champions Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova in their final round-robin match. With the group winners and one eliminated pair being confirmed already, the winner of this match will join Hsieh and Strycova in progressing while the losers will end their season.
Stosur and Zhang continued their fine progress as they eventually booked their semifinal spot with the support of the home crowd, saving a massive seven set points in the second set to prevail 6-3, 7-6 in a rigorous and intense match.
Krejcikova and Siniakova were erratic off the ground today, mishitting 24 unforced errors and only being able to find 21 winners. Zhang and Stosur viciously attacked the net and held their baseline game well, blasting 27 winners to just 26 unforced errors. They won 71 per cent of their first serves, compared to the meagre 55 per cent for their opponents which definitely was not enough to compete with other top pairs.
Zhang and Stosur delight home crowd, triumphs in straight sets
For the first time this week, it was Stosur and Zhang who earned the fast start and drew the first blood. Knowing that this match is decisive for their qualification, they had to get down to business straight and cannot afford any forms of mediocrity. Surging out to an early 3-1 lead, they were immediately applying the pressure on Krejcikova and Siniakova, who looked helpless in the early stages.
Errors were flooding the Czech duo's games, and they soon found themselves trailing by two breaks of serve which could have effectively meant that it was over. A late resurgence from the seventh seeds saw them mounting a comeback, but they failed to hold serve as they were broken on the third occasion to concede the opening set 3-6.
Changing their tactics for the second set, Krejcikova and Siniakova threatened a huge comeback similar to their second round-robin match against the second seeds Hsieh and Strycova. Four consecutive games went the way of the Czechs as they prevailed on three deciding points, showcasing how tight the match was.
Stosur and Zhang were just a step away from losing their serve but even some terrific defence from Siniakova could not handle their aggression as they ended the rout at four straight games. It seemed destined that we are going for yet another deciding match tie-break to determine the winner, but Stosur and Zhang produced some magic afterwards.
Baseline errors from Siniakova and several miscues at the net saw the duo miss six set points with their opponents rattling off five consecutive games to completely turn the tables and lead 6-5.
Krejcikova and Siniakova impressively rebounded, slamming down a love service hold to send the set into a tiebreak. They went down 0-3 quickly, but once again the topsy-turvy set saw the seven seeds claiming four straight points to lead 4-3.
Another error from Siniakova ensured that Stosur and Zhang were still in contention, and they finally earned their first match point as the Czechs were too passive in their game. After a clean backhand return winner to save the first match point from Krejcikova, they were unable to save a second as Zhang and Stosur ultimately booked their spots in the semifinals.