SINGAPORE -- The winners of the first major title of the year ended 2018 as the victors at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global as well, as Australian Open champions Timea Babos of Hungary and Kristina Mladenovic of France defeated top-seeded Czechs Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, 6-4, 7-5, in the Singapore final.
"Obviously to win the WTA Finals, I'm speaking for myself, an unreal feeling to win that very prestigious title for the first time," Mladenovic said in the post-match press conference. "I couldn't ask for better moment and partner to share it with than my best friend."
Babos agreed, saying that "to share it with [Mladenovic] and to live through these moments together, it's very, very special. I'm really, really glad to be part of this story."
No.2-seeded Babos and Mladenovic, both 25 years old, earned their third title of the year with their 84-minute victory. For Babos, she emerged with the Singapore trophy for the second year in a row, having won the WTA Finals last year alongside Andrea Sestini Hlavackova.
"For [Babos, it] was to defend her title, so this is pretty impressive," Mladenovic continued. "We are actually extremely proud of how the week went, but also, you know, all the efforts we went through throughout the whole year, so it's a very nice reward for us."
Krejcikova and Siniakova picked up the Roland Garros and Wimbledon titles this year, and clinched the year-end co-World No.1 ranking after their semifinal win on Saturday, but they were outgunned in the final by Babos and Mladenovic, who claimed their second win in two meetings against the 22-year-old Czechs.
Overall, Babos and Mladenovic were more effective with their fiery aggression on the day, slamming 25 winners to only 19 unforced errors, and breaking the Czechs three times. Krejcikova and Siniakova craftily charged the net often, with frequent success, but their 15 winners were negated by 20 unforced errors.
"I think each other's weapons [of ours] are perfect match for the doubles game, and we just -- our communication is good," Mladenovic explained. "You know, doubles is going so fast that sometimes you don't really have time to call the balls and to communicate, and I feel like we feel each other's mindset."
Both teams started off the match exceptionally well, with fast-moving, forward-thinking points being the norm, and players taking command of their service games with ease. The combatants reached 3-3 without any server having to face a break point.
But Siniakova faltered in her second service game, firing one double fault and blasting an overhead long en route to dropping her serve and giving her opponents the 4-3 lead. Serving for the set at 5-4, Babos had to rebound from 0-30 down before key putaways at the net by Mladenovic, including on their second set point in the game, sealed the opening frame.
A screaming Mladenovic down-the-line return winner on break point at 2-2 gave the second-seeded team the initial break of the second set. But the Czechs fought back in the next game, claiming their only service break of the match on Babos’s delivery after the Hungarian shot an overhead into the net on break point.
In the end, though, Babos and Mladenovic pulled ahead at the end of the set, garnering the decisive break on Siniakova’s serve at 5-5. In that game, it was the powerful Babos groundstrokes off of both wings which led her team to a love break and a 6-5 lead, wrapping that game up with a stunning backhand down-the line passing winner.
Serving for the match, Mladenovic squandered two match points on her own serve with a double fault and a netted forehand error respectively. But a clever Babos volley forced an error from Siniakova to bring up a third match point, which was converted after Krejcikova blasted a backhand into the net, and the Hungarian and Frenchwoman squealed with delight after their win.