DUBAI, UAE -- Defending champions Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova continued their superb season at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Friday night, moving past 4th-seeded Gabriela Dabrowski and Zhang Shuai, 7-5, 6-3, to claim a spot in the final of the Premier-level event.
"It was a good match," Strycova said on-court, after her team's victory. "I think it was a lot of ups and downs. Both teams were losing, in the second set, our serves. But my partner served it out, which is great, and I’m very happy to be back in the final."
No.1 seeds Hsieh of Chinese Taipei and the Czech Republic’s Strycova are now up to a splendid 12-1 win-loss record in 2020 following their 82-minute victory over Dabrowski and Zhang. The duo have reached the final at all three events they have played this year, winning the title at Brisbane and finishing as runners-up at the Australian Open.
Well over half of the games went against serve, but it was ultimately Hsieh and Strycova who notched both close sets, converting seven of their ten break points as they grabbed a seventh straight match-win at the tournament over the past two seasons.
The top seeds will now take on No.5 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Zheng Saisai in the final. Krejcikova and Zheng swept past Desirae Krawczyk and Alison Riske, 6-2, 6-2, in the earlier semifinal.
"We know them both very well, but we haven’t played them before as a pair," said Strycova. "It’s going to be interesting, it’s going to be a very tough match, because they were beating very good teams. Just to say, we are very happy to be back in the final, and can’t wait until tomorrow."
After an exchange of breaks in the first two games, the pairings stayed on serve up through 4-3, where a solid Strycova service return forced an error to bring up break point. There, Zhang blasted an overhead long to cede a 5-3 lead to the top seeds.
However, any hopes that Hsieh and Strycova had about cruising to an easy first-set win were dashed in the next game, when a series of miscues in the forecourt led Strycova to drop serve at love. Dabrowski and Zhang were able to consolidate that break, putting them back level at 5-5.
Hsieh and Strycova would have the last laugh in the opening frame, though. At 6-5, a brilliant lob by Hsieh fell inside the court for a clean winner, sending the game to deciding point, which doubled as a set point for her team. Hsieh clinched the set for Strycova and herself in the next point, after she ended an incredible rally with a forehand passing winner.
A flurry of service breaks occurred during the second set, as both teams jockeyed for supremacy. After Hsieh held serve to open the frame, no less than seven straight games went to the returning team. The run concluded with Strycova and Hsieh breaking the Dabrowski serve to lead 5-3.
The streak of breaks, though, was bookended by Hsieh service holds. Another scintillating lob winner by the current doubles World No.1 from Chinese Taipei gave her squad their first match point. They needed a second match point to claim victory, but there, a passing winner by Hsieh put the top seeds into the championship match once more.
"Su-wei likes to play this shot," Strycova replied with a smile, when asked about her partner's amazing lobs. "It’s working, so why not play it?"