BRISBANE, Australia - Top seeds Barbora Strycova and Hsieh Su-Wei held off local favorites Ashleigh Barty and Kiki Bertens in a dramatic final clash to lift the doubles trophy at the Brisbane International, 3-6, 7-6(7), 10-8.
“I think we win this tournament and normally I don't play very good in Brisbane, so I'm very happy,” Hsieh grinned in their post-match press conference. “Barbora was helping to win this title.”
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Strycova added, “But it's also good to start the year like that and you never know what to expect when you have one month off, and we actually didn't really practice with each other. So you can, it's good to go for Melbourne with such a win like this and to beat players like we did today.”
Wimbledon champions Strycova and Hsieh capped off a dream start to the season with their first title of the year, continuing the winning momentum they built up last year. In addition to the Grand Slam in London, Strycova and Hsieh combined to win Indian Wells, Madrid, Dubai and Birmingham, as well as reach the championship match at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen.
They didn’t drop a set in Brisbane en route to the final, starting with a 6-3, 6-4 win against all-Australian wildcard team Priscilla Hon and Storm Sanders and faced a tough challenge from veterans Lucie Hradecka and Andreja Klepac, 7-5, 6-4. They were nearly taken the distance again in the semifinals against Lyudmyla Kichenok and Yang Zhaoxuan, but emerged victorious 7-6(3), 6-3.
In the championship match, local favorites Barty - who is ranked World No.1 in singles - and Bertens delighted home fans when they rushed ahead to claim the opening set on after earning the break at 4-2 Pat Rafter Arena.
The second set was an edgy affair as neither team could hold on to the momentum, exchanging breaks twice. Strycova and Hsieh served for the set at 5-3, but the stadium court roared as the Aussie-Dutch duo broke right back to make it 5-4, sending it to a match tiebreak. In the decider, the top seeds had to come back from 2-5 and save a match point at 5-6, before clawing their way in front and winning 10-8.
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“I thought the whole match we were playing good, but at the beginning they were really stepping it up and I lost, I was the first one who lost the serve,” Strycova said. “But then we both knew that we had chances on Ash's serve as well, so we tried to just hang in the match.
“And then we kind of felt that we will get the chance and it happened on Kiki's serve at the second set. So we broke her there, but then they broke us back.
“But it was a really entertaining match for, also for us and I hope that, I mean, I could feel that the people enjoyed it a lot... Ash was playing. But every day was a lot of people and it was a lot of fun to play.”