DOHA, Qatar - Gabriela Dabrowski and Jelena Ostapenko have reached their first final as a team at the Qatar Total Open, upending fellow unseeded duo Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and three minutes.
The Canadian and the Latvian were playing just their fourth tournament together against a vastly more experienced pair: the Czechs' partnership dates back to their junior days, when they compiled a 24-match winning streak that included the Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open girls' doubles titles in 2013.
But on the one-year anniversary of their first competition together, when Dabrowski and Ostapenko reached the quarterfinals in Dubai last year, there was no sign of any inexperience in terms of teamwork. Instead, the contrasting skillsets of each player were on full display.
Though for the most part they fell into natural roles of Dabrowski, fresh off the Australian Open mixed doubles crown with Rohan Bopanna, providing the touch and Ostapenko the power, this was by no means a rigid pattern. Indeed, the Roland Garros champion demonstrated increasing strategic awareness by cleverly mixing up lobs and powerful groundstrokes when at the back of the court, while Dabrowski was quick to sense opportunity in the second set to up her own groundstroke pace en route to a break of the Krejcikova serve. Moreover, Ostapenko repeatedly used her power to set her partner up at net rather than just as a point-ending weapon in its own right.
Semifinalists at Roland Garros in 2016 and runners-up in Shenzhen in January, Krejcikova and Siniakova showed their class on a number of occasions, particularly at net: Siniakova's touch was feathery and Krejcikova's elegant in the first set, and twice they went up a break.
But despite the relative paucity of their resumé, Dabrowski and Ostapenko showed their resilience in immediately recapturing both service breaks. The Canadian, current holder of two mixed doubles Grand Slam titles, was particularly creative and accurate in her play, breaking the Siniakova serve for 5-3 in the first set with a delightful semi-lob that counfounded her opponents, and closing out games for 4-2 and 5-2 in the second set with an angled smash and swashbuckling leaping volley.
In tomorrow's final, against either Monique Adamczak and Lyudmyla Kichenok or No.8 seeds Andreja Klepac and María José Martínez Sánchez, Dabrowski will go for her seventh title and second of 2018 (following Sydney alongside Xu Yifan). Meanwhile, Ostapenko will seek to preserve her unbeaten record with a third different partner in as many doubles finals, following titles in St. Petersburg and Stüttgart last year with Alicja Rosolska and Raquel Atawo respectively.