In the final round robin match of the Lotus Group, No.6 seeds Duan Ying-Ying and Han Xinyun overcame Liang Chen and Yang Zhaoxuan to book their place in the Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai's doubles final.
WTA Staff
November 4, 2017

ZHUHAI, China - No.6 seeds Duan Ying-Ying and Han Xinyun overcame No.3 seeds Liang Chen and Yang Zhaoxuan in a fluctuating contest 7-6(2), 6-4 to complete the round robin stage of the Lotus Group and advance to the final of the Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai.

"I'm just tagging along with a stronger player because I couldn't have made it based on my ranking...but Duan asked me two days before the final signup if I wanted to join her," Han said. "I said okay. It would be great if I can - then here we are."

Added Duan: "I think she is great at doubles. She is good at both net and baseline, and she's a lefty...so I think we would team up great."

An epic second game saw 28-year-old Duan fend off four break points to hold - and thereafter, her team seized the momentum with gusto.

Duan's power, particularly behind the serve, and Han's left-handed topspin groundstrokes proved to be a dominant combination, and the duo permitted their compatriots just four points in the next four games to storm to a 5-1 lead.

However, some improved serving and determined net play saw Liang and Yang, who reached the third round of the Australian Open in January together, chip away at the lead to draw level at 5-5 - only for Liang to be broken once again to fall behind 5-6.

With Han unable to serve out the set for a second time, the see-saw set would be decided by a tiebreak - in which Duan and Han once more found their best form to take 7-2 on their first set point.

Liang Chen and Yang Zhaoxuan react after winning a point (Osports)
Liang Chen and Yang Zhaoxuan react after winning a point (Osports)

The dramatic momentum swings continued into the second set. This time, it was Liang and Yang who stamped their authority early on, taking a sequence of 14 out of 17 points to leap out to a 4-1 lead with a double break.

A huge return down the line from Han saw the No.6 seeds retrieve one of the breaks, though - and this proved to be the key in turning the set around as Duan and Han reeled off five consecutive games to take the match, which ended on a Yang double fault.

Duan Ying-Ying returns serve as Han Xinyun is poised at net (Osports)
Duan Ying-Ying returns serve as Han Xinyun is poised at net (Osports)

Duan and Han are playing just their second tournament at WTA level together, having reached the Kuala Lumpur quarterfinals in February.

However, the partnership have made a final before, back in their ITF days in 2012 - when they were runners-up in the Sydney $25,000 event to Arina Rodionova and Melanie South.

"I think we were both very good on the baseline, and our attack," Duan assessed. "There was not enough time for our opponents to return, so the baseline was good. It would be greater if we had better play at net."

Tomorrow, they will face either Lu Jing-Jing and Zhang Shuai or Jiang Xinyu and Tang Qianhui for their first ever title.