SHENZHEN, China - No.3 seeds Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic became the first team to successfully defend a WTA Finals doubles title in 11 years after they defeated No.2 seeds Hsieh Su-Wei and Barbora Strycova 6-1, 6-3 in a flawless one hour, five-minute performance to lift the Martina Navratilova Doubles Trophy.
"The game plan, like the whole week, was bringing our big game," assessed Mladenovic of the match. "[To] use our big strengths that we have each in our singles game, which would be big serve, great returns, today we were very strong at the beginning of the points. There was not that many rallies out there... The key word was 'dominant'. The pace of our shot was consistently quite great and fast. It definitely bothered the opponents' team."
Babos added: "Just amazed about this week. We played some great tennis. There was no one out there in this tournament who could beat us."
The Franco-Hungarian duo, who have gone undefeated this week and will thus collect the largest prize money check ever in professional doubles tennis at $1 million, avenged their Wimbledon semifinal defeat to Hsieh and Strycova to become the first back-to-back champions at the year-end finale since Cara Black and Liezel Huber in 2007-08. Babos, who also took the trophy in 2017 partnering Andrea Sestini Hlavackova, also becomes the first player to win a hat-trick of WTA Finals doubles titles since Lindsay Davenport in 1996-98 alongside Mary Joe Fernandez, Jana Novotna and Natasha Zvereva.
"Nothing better than to share it with Kiki!" exclaimed Babos. "Really, every tournament for me is the same when I can share it with her. It's very amazing to be able to lift that trophy for the third time in a row. We're both hungry to be back and to get more."
— WTA (@WTA) November 3, 2019
In yesterday's semifinal against No.7 seeds Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai, Babos and Mladenovic had got off to a slow start and had been dominated in the opening set - but today, the Roland Garros champions flipped that script. Working in perfect harmony together, with winning volleys flowing from the Babos racquet in particular, Babos and Mladenovic conceded just four points behind their deliveries while breaking their opponents three times.
Hsieh and Strycova, meanwhile, displayed little of the form that had seen them rout No.8 seeds Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Demi Schuurs in the previous round: Strycova conceded the opening game on a double fault while Hsieh was uncharacteristically slow to react on several occasions. Towards the end of the 21-minute opening act, the Chinese Taipei player repeatedly found her second serve punished by Mladenovic's scorching returns.
— WTA (@WTA) November 3, 2019
The Wimbledon champions showed a flicker of a resurgence as the second set got under way, with Hsieh finding a pair of winners to break Babos fior the first time - but it was all too brief. Though the Chinese Taipei-Czech duo would manage to get a foothold in more games over the course of the second act, they were still too error-prone - and their opponents too clutch - to make it count on the scoreboard.
Volleying mistakes from Hsieh and another Strycova double fault meant that the break was immediately relinquished, and from 2-2 Babos and Mladenovic would win three straight games on deciding points - including another break of the Hsieh serve - with the Hungarian once again delivering point-ending power at net in key moments.
This lead would be unassailable: stepping up to the line to serve for her third straight title, Babos posted an emphatic love hold, sealing the title with a booming service winner.