DOHA, Qatar - Hsieh Su-Wei and Barbora Strycova will have to keep their celebrations on ice after becoming just the second doubles team in WTA history to complete the Middle East Sweep, winning back-to-back titles at the Dubai Duty Free Championships and Qatar Total Open. The top seeds in Doha, Hsieh and Strycova extended their brilliant start to the season to 17-1, defeating No.6 seeds Gabriela Dabrowski and Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 5-7, 10-2 to capture their third title of the season.
With the win, Hsieh will overtake Kristina Mladenovic to surge back to doubles No.1 on Monday.
Hsieh and Strycova joined the WTA Insider Podcast after their triumph - but before their midnight flights - to reflect on their physically and mentally grueling run through Dubai and Doha, their hopes to become joint No.1s soon, and why celebrating such a rare career achievement is equal parts important and tricky. It would appear that tennis stops for no one, not even the top doubles team on tour.
Listen to the conversation on the WTA Insider Podcast below:
WTA Insider: First of all, Hsieh Su-Wei, you'll be returning to No.1 on Monday. How does that feel?
Hsieh: I have to thanks to my partner.
Strycova: It's awesome to be number one. It's such a great feeling, right? There is no one better.
Hsieh: I'm waiting for you to come so we are both at No.1.
Strycova: I have to say, it's also great when I became No.1, it's a great feeling. But then there is a partner next to you also becoming No.1, we are both No.1s. It's awesome. It's like something that we achieved together.
The moment of victory!— WTA (@WTA) February 28, 2020
.@BaraStrycova and Hsieh Su-wei beat Dabrowski and Ostapenko 6-2, 5-7, 10-2 to become the 1st team to achieve the Middle East sweep in the same season since @lisaraymond73 and Liezel Huber in 2012. pic.twitter.com/MlZfSti7Ki
WTA Insider: What's your story of the tournament? What was the key to winning Doha?
Strycova: Well, the story is that though we came the last moment we could, Sunday evening, and we were both very destroyed. I mean, the journey was tough and long. We are older girls, so it's not easy.
Hsieh: I'm 18-years old! What are you talking about?
Strycova: And we were kind of like, ok we try, but our bodies were not feeling great. But then I felt like the first two rounds we were playing really good. But last night we were 3-7 down in the tiebreak. And it was very windy, it was a rollercoaster match, and we were kind of like always the second one in the match. We won somehow the first set. I can't even believe how we did that. But then it was something happening at 9-all.
When you win these matches, you kind of get the confidence. This is the story of this one. But there's always the stories in every tournament. These two weeks were amazing.
WTA Insider: You are both sitting at the top of the doubles right now, but you're also very committed to your singles. It must be physically taxing to be dominant in one discipline while also playing the other.
Strycova: Yeah. It's not easy, I have to say. It's really difficult, especially when you have to play two matches in one day. And then it also happened in Dubai and also here.
But we choose that. I don't want to give up anything, not singles, not doubles. So this is how it is and we have to go through it. Some days are really hardcore. But this is the reward.
WTA Insider: Barbora said in the press conference that she was getting very flustered and stressed out in the second set of the final. Hsieh Su-Wei, what are the magic words you use to help her calm down and stay positive?
Hsieh: Calm dooooooown!
WTA Insider: That's effective?
Hsieh: It works good.
Strycova: It helps a lot today because I was really kind of - well, I was not kind of - I was frustrated. She kept telling me to be positive and that helped, even though I am emotional and I'm negative. But then I had to get it together and yeah, that's why we won that match.
WTA Insider: Speaking of playing Dabrowski and Ostapenko tonight, Ostapenko obviously plays with a lot of power. What do you do tactically to try and stop her power from dominating?
Hsieh: Actually, I quite like the power game of the girls, especially at the net, because I know I can swing the ball as well. So I have no problem when the girl hits the ball very hard.
As you see, I'm not afraid and I can still do whatever I want on the court. So Barbara was helping me and had my back, so she covered the court and I just running everywhere.
Strycova: But you are right, that she hits hard and she can hit hard from anywhere from the court. So you try to avoid that and you try to mix the game.
I don't have the power as she does, so you try to put it a little bit away. So you go serve and volley and she doesn't have so much time and she doesn't have so much space for it.
Hsieh: If you say it now then she knows it!
Strycova: Ok. It was working.
WTA Insider: I've been talking to the doubles specialists this week about what it is like for them to go up against teams that are comprised of singles players. How about for you? What is the difference when you play a team of singles players compared to doubles players?
Hsieh: You know, I started doubles very long time ago. Eighteen years ago, I was in Dubai semifinal. We got a wildcard and then we were in the semifinal. So I was not afraid of a singles player when I was very young, when I'm playing doubles. That's how I grew up. So I don't think the doubles players have any problem to play against the singles player. [00:05:48][17.8]
Strycova: But do you feel the difference between them?
Hsieh: They use more singles stuff to play the doubles. But the doubles players, they're using more doubles skill to play the doubles. So that's a difference and makes the game more fun to watch.
Strycova: Well, for the spectators I think it's much more fun to watch four doubles players because there is more skills. There is more crossing, there is more lobs, there is much more variation.
But if you are looking for doubles of four singles players, you won't see that much because you will see a lot of crosses. And it's just because they don't play the doubles so they don't know yet where to stand. So this is the difference.
WTA Insider: After losing in the Australian Open final, I saw you both celebrating with your teams. That was after a loss. So how do you plan to celebrate these two wins?
Hsieh: I'm in Fed Cup. In Dubai I will try and do something.
Strycova: This is a great question, because tennis is really cruel in this, like hardcore. Because like we won in Dubai and then you get the trophy, but you don't think about wow, we go for a nice dinner and now let's have three days off. No, you are thinking how fast you can pack, how fast you can go to the airport and catch a flight. And then you have to be ready in 24 hours to play a singles match or a doubles match.
Like right now I'm talking to you and I know that in two hours I'm going to have a hotel pick-up to go to the airport. So it's really, really difficult. But when you get to the place where you want to be, you have to just sit down and realize what we achieved and then I think I know how to celebrate it. So I'm going to celebrate a little bit because I have some time off. No tournament next week.