SHENZHEN, China - The first doubles team to qualify for the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen was also the first team to advance into the knockout stages as No.2 seeds Hsieh Su-Wei and Barbora Strycova tore their way through the Purple Group.
With a perfect 2-0 record heading into their final match, their last round robin match was essentially a dead rubber. But the Wimbledon winners are competitors to the end, and it showed in the way that Strycova looked visibly crushed after the pair fell to Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yifan in a late-night thriller.
“It feels weird, because it’s like 10 minutes after the match, and we lost 11-9 in the tiebreak,” Strycova told wtatennis.com afterward. “Right now it feels, like, weird.”
“We are a little bit mad, I guess. Right?” Strycova added, turning to Hsieh.
“Eh, for me it’s okay, because we know we are already in the semifinals,” Hsieh replied with a chipper smile. “It should be no pressure, and then I think we were just thinking a bit too much today. We made the match a little bit more tight for ourselves,” she added, before turning to Strycova with a grin, “It’s okay, it’s okay. Because it’s good, we get some more time on the court to help our next match.”
There are indeed a lot of positives to take away from the pair’s 2-1 round robin run, booking their spot into their first WTA Finals together as a team. It’s a continuation of the level they’ve shown all season long, which saw them lift trophies in Madrid, Dubai and Birmingham - in addition to their Wimbledon crown.
“It shows that we’ve been working really hard together. So, thanks Barbora!” the 2013 champion Hsieh laughed, turning again to her partner, “Keep on working hard!”
“It was our goal, actually, when we started playing,” Strycova elaborated. “A Grand Slam was our first goal, and the second was to qualify here. And it happened, and we’re here playing in the semifinal. We will just fight and we will try to get as many wins as you can.”
In a season full of highlights, the Wimbledon win stands out the most for both, but in particular Strycova: while the win was Hsieh’s third major title, it was Strycova’s first - and it also propelled up her to the WTA Doubles World No.1 ranking for the first time.
The World No.1 ranking is at stake again in Shenzhen, with a win in the semifinals guaranteeing Strycova clinches the 2019 WTA Year-End World No.1 Doubles Ranking presented by Dubai Duty Free. And after clinching the ranking at Wimbledon, Strycova is even more keen to hang onto the top spot.
“Especially that [my first Grand Slam title] was at Wimbledon, it’s my favorite tournament, it was so incredible that everything happened there,” Strycova reflected. “And I am so glad and lucky to experience it with Su-Wei because she won there already before. So she had some experience.
“It was the highlight of my career from the doubles point of view, and also with the view of then becoming No.1 in the world. It was very, very nice.”
No.2 seeds Barbora Strycova and Hsieh Su-Wei will face the No.8 seeds Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Demi Schuurs in the semifinals of the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen.