Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yifan put on a stellar display to defeat Lucie Hradecka and Ekaterina Makarova and set up a China Open final against Andrea Sestini Hlavackova and Barbora Strycova.
Alex Macpherson
October 6, 2018

BEIJING, China - No.3 seeds Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yifan will take on No.2 seeds Andrea Sestini Hlavackova and Barbora Strycova in the China Open doubles final after both teams essayed straight-sets wins in their semifinals.

Dabrowski and Xu, who have yet to drop a set this week, put on a brilliant display of finesse to defeat No.7 seeds Lucie Hradecka and Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 6-2, while Sestini Hlavackova and Strycova avenged two prior losses to No.4 seeds Elise Mertens and Demi Schuurs - including in last week's Wuhan final - to come through 6-0, 7-5.

With their spot at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global confirmed yesterday, Dabrowski and Xu were dazzling at times as they made their way into their fourth final of the season. In a classic battle between touch and power, it was the Canadian-Chinese duo's ability to find impossible angles at net and to frustrate their opponents with their retrieving skills that won out.

Playing in front of her enthusiastic home crowd, Xu was particularly strong, controlling several points at net and returning smash after smash from her opponents. As her team pulled away in the second set, the 30-year-old also came up with moments of cheeky creativity, such as a dropshot return hit directly at Hradecka that confounded the Czech into shanking her response well wide.

Though Dabrowski would concede her serve on a deciding point in the very first game, the pair would not face another break point for the rest of the match. The 26-year-old would play her role in smothering the increasingly error-strewn Czech-Russian duo, who would be broken once each per set, and sealed the match with a sharply angled volley at Makarova's feet.

Gabriela Dabrowski, Xu Yifan - Beijing 2018 - China Open
Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yifan are in sync during their 2018 China Open semifinal victory (China Open)

Mertens and Schuurs had clinched their own spot in Singapore by defeating Sestini Hlavackova and Strycova to lift the Wuhan trophy last week, but the Czech pair were out for revenge this week, reeling off the first eight games of the match. The New Haven champions were especially sharp on deciding points, with three of their first four breaks of serve coming via this route.

Though the Belgian-Dutch pair would twice battle back from a break down in the second set and threatened an epic comeback at times, Sestini Hlavackova and Strycova would save two break points to serve out the match at the second time of asking thanks to another deciding point.

A title tomorrow would be a second Premier Mandatory trophy for each player; Sestini Hlavackova is the only former Beijing champion, having won the tournament in 2014 alongside Peng Shuai. Strycova, partnering Hsieh Su-Wei, was this year's Indian Wells champion, while Dabrowski and Xu won their first title together at Miami 2017.

Since then, Dabrowski and Xu have racked up four titles and are yet to lose a final as a pair, adding Sydney and Eastbourne to their collection this year. By contrast, Sestini Hlavackova and Strycova have just one victory in four finals as a team. Tomorrow's title decider will be the first time the duos have squared off.