NEW YORK, NY, USA – No.3 seeds Kveta Peschke and Demi Schuurs won the Ladies Doubles at the Western & Southern Open with a strong performance against No.2 seeds Nicole Melichar and Xu Yifan.
The American-Dutch pairing, who were both two-time runners-up in Cincinnati with previous partnerships, took one hour 18 minutes to seal victory, 6-1, 4-6, [10-6], making just five unforced errors over the course of the match.
“Everything I think came together somehow,” Pescke reflected in their post-match press conference. “In the first round, you're still a little bit look for each other and trying to put everything together where you have been left off, which is five months.
“So it was long time that we hadn't chance to practice, we hadn't chance to play any match. So the first match is obviously, almost at any tournament, one of the crucial ones. So we were fighting the first match through, and I think with every day, we became stronger and better as a unit again.
“I think it worked well in the end, and we are super happy we could pull it off.”
It was the pair’s first title together and represented Schuurs’ first appearance in a WTA Tour final since Cincinnati last year – a tournament in which she and Anna-Lena Groenefeld were defeated by Lucie Hradecka and Andreja Klepac.
Peschke and Schuurs had accounted for the two-time defending champions in the semis with an impressive 6-2, 6-1 victory and once again displayed a remarkable understanding given the relative newness of the partnership.
“Now it's actually, I think, the first time that we're both fit. I think that's a big difference,” Schuurs said. “Because the level is always so high, you need to be fit. You need to play your best tennis.”
“I think that's something that change now, that we are both fit, we don't have any injuries, and we were just playing. A little bit lucky sometimes. You need that, as well. I think that's the difference.
“The beginning we knew we were playing high level, especially in practice. I think we beat almost everyone. But in matches it was still different, and now, yeah, we're both fit and we played a good level.”
After Peschke, a former World No.1 in doubles, held serve solidly in the opening game, the lower-ranked pair immediately set about establishing their advantage as they attacked the Melichar serve, sealing it as the American lobbed long on the decisive point.
It set the tone for the opening frame, with Xu’s hold of serve to love representing four of the seven points the Chinese-American pairing won in the space of four games otherwise dominated by their rivals, who were working the ball around court intelligently and catching their opponents out at the net.
Although Schuurs was forced to a decisive point on her serve after two set points was squandered, Xu’s tame long forehand secured the opening set.
For a brief period, it seemed the second might be as one sided as the first. Xu was broken in the opening game but serving at 1-3, 30-30, the Chinese player dug deep to hold her serve and switch the momentum of the match.
A Schuurs double fault presented the No.2 seeds with a break to level, with Xu notably exploiting the weakness of the ‘I’ formation by driving forehand winners off the return down the line.
It was again on the Schuurs serve that Melichar and Xu stepped up to seal the set. Having established a 15-40 advantage, the first chance was misfired wide, but a match tiebreak was forced as the Doubles World No.10 drilled a return that was too hot for Peschke to control.
Although the No.2 seeds scored the first minibreak in the decisive sequence, it was ultimately dominated by Peschke and Schuurs, who surged to the finishing line by winning seven of the last eight points.
Victory represents the fourth WTA title of World No.12 Schuurs’ career, while 45-year-old Peschke, the World No.23, picked up her 35th crown.
“Of course you have a nice feeling,” Schuurs said, reflecting on the pair’s confidence level heading into the US Open. “I think the confidence is better than before. We played matches together. We didn't lose yet. So of course it's nice to go into a tournament like US Open and you didn't lose. Of course it's nice.
“But we have to realize it's a new tournament. We have to focus again. New opponents. Everyone is playing at high level. So I think we just have to focus on a new week… You see often, if players win a tournament, the week afterwards, the first round is always tough. It's good we know this, so we will focus on that. Of course it gives you confidence. But overall, next week is a new week.”
Schuurs and Peschke are the No.4 seeds at next week's US Open, where they will take on Darija Jurak and Sharon Fichman in the opening round.