LONDON, UK - In an entertaining clash of styles, No.3 seeds Hsieh Su-Wei and Barbora Strycova overcame No.6 seeds Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka 6-4, 6-2 in the Wimbledon quarterfinals to make the final four of a major for the first time as a team.
It is two-time Grand Slam doubles champion Hsieh's first trip to the Wimbledon semifinals since her 2013 title run with Peng Shuai, and five-time major doubles semifinalist Strycova's deepest run at SW19 ever - in the same year as her career-best singles showing, where she has also reached the last four. The result also avenges their only previous meeting with Mertens and Sabalenka, won by the Belgian-Belarusian duo 7-6(3), 2-6, [10-3] in the second round of Miami this year - and sets the Birmingham champions on a collision course of winning streaks in the semifinals, where their eight consecutive victories will go up against No.1 seeds Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic's 13 in a row.
In a compelling battle between firepower and finesse, it was the wiles of Hsieh and Strycova that dominated the match as the Chinese Taipei-Czech pair got the early lead, held off a fighback and then pulled away for good. With their wide variety of volleys working perfectly, the Dubai, Madrid and Birmingham winners took advantage of their opponents' power going awry too often. Sabalenka in particular would intermittently impress with a blazing winner, but was also responsible for the volley error that conceded Mertens' serve for the first break in the third game - and then, just after her team had finally clawed themselves back to level terms by breaking Hsieh for 4-4, dropping her own serve in the blink of an eye.
The closing stages of the first set and beginning of the second set contained the day's finest play, particularly as Hsieh and Strycova showcased some of their most creative and unexpected patterns. Serving for the first set, a 17-stroke rally ended as Hsieh threw in a short sidespun shot that set Strycova up for one of many efficient winning poaches; three games later, Strycova converted a break point by chasing down a fine angled volley from Sabalenka to respond with a ludicrous counter-angle of her own.
As the match went on, the Sabalenka serve began to come off its hinges. The Belarusian committed six double faults in total, twice in the second set offering a brace of them in one game. Hsieh and Strycova needed no encouragement, capturing her serve both times to build a comfortable lead and closing out the match at their first opportunity thanks to some more excellent net play from Strycova.