BEIJING, China - Wildcards Bethanie Mattek-Sands and partner Sofia Kenin will face Jelena Ostapenko and Dayana Yastremska in the final of the China Open doubles after they overcame the challenge of Japanese pair Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara, 6-4, 6-1.
The American duo fell behind an early break in the first set but that would be their only blot on serve over the course of the match, which they stormed away with in the second set.
Playing together for the first time on the WTA Tour, like their opponents in Sunday’s showpiece, they recorded their most convincing victory yet after ousting No.5 seed Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Demi Shuurs in a tight quarterfinal.
Nevertheless, they made a slightly slow start to this encounter as the Japanese duo served the better out of the blocks. Indeed, Mattek-Sands and Kenin successfully faced down two break points in the opening game, but a third when they next served proved too much to overcome.
While there were moment of slight misunderstanding from the new partnership, they were able to hit back rapidly as the opening set careered towards its climax at a healthy pace. With just their second break point of the match, they claimed it, turning the momentum firmly in their favor.
Crucially, Kenin saved two break points on serve at the start of the second set, then the WTA World No.16 in singles helped her team move 2-0 up with a fine crosscourt at 30-all in the following game.
All of the key moments seemed to drop the way of the North Americans, who successfully overturned a line on the decisive point to move 3-0 up.
Another break followed thanks to Kenin’s sharp hands at the net, which allowed her to loft a deft volley lob over the heads of her opponents. It was their fourth break from four break points.
Aoyama and Shibahara managed to drag the match out by finally getting on the board, but there was no prospect of a recovery as Mattek-Sands successfully served out to 15 to complete a 67-minute win.
There was greater tension in the other semi, where Ostapenko and Yastremska had to fight from behind to overcome the Pliskova twins Karolina and Kristyna.
The Czechs hit six aces in the opening set and saved three break points as they moved into the ascendancy, but it was their opponents who were applying the more consistent pressure, which told in the second as they broke in the opening game then held with relative comfort on five successive occasions.
Ostapenko and Yastremska then went on to dominate the 10-point tiebreaker, forging out to a 4-0 lead before being pegged back by a couple of minibreaks. However, they rapidly re-established their advantage and showing good rhythm on serve ploughed through the closing points to move through to the final.