NEW YORK, NY, USA -- Laura Siegemund of Germany and Vera Zvonareva of Russia continued their romp through the US Open women's doubles draw, as they overcame a stern fight from the all-Russian tandem of Anna Blinkova and Veronika Kudermetova on Tuesday, 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, to reach the final.
In a clash between two unseeded pairings, 32-year-old Siegemund and 36-year-old Zvonareva had to battle through a grueling two-hour and 35-minute battle filled with dramatic points to quell the challenge of the 21-year-old Blinkova and 23-year-old Kudermetova and become the first finalists of the 2020 US Open.
"We tried not to take it as a semifinal match, we just tried to really focus on our opponents and on the tactics, and they were crucial today," Siegemund said on court, after the win. "I think we had a great plan, we had to go to Plan B and C sometimes, and I think that’s what made the little difference at the end."
"But I have to give credit to our opponents, I think it was a very good match, definitely worth a semifinal," the German added.
Teaming up for the very first time, Siegemund and Zvonareva had notched upsets in their last two matches, with a win over No.7 seeds Victoria Azarenka and Sofia Kenin in the round of 16 followed by a quarterfinal victory over No.2 seeds and defending champions Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka.
Unseeded veterans. Still getting it done.— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 8, 2020
Laura Siegemund and Vera Zvonareva are into the final in doubles after defeating Blinkova and Kudermetova 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 💪@laurasiegemund I @verazvonareva pic.twitter.com/Rvo6PjRWXx
However, the German-Russian pair do have Grand Slam-winning experience in their resumes, which helped to pull them to the victory over Blinkova and Kudermetova, who were into the semifinals of a major for the very first time in each of their careers.
Zvonareva has won two Grand Slam women's doubles titles (including the 2006 US Open with Nathalie Dechy) and two Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. Siegemund won the 2016 US Open mixed doubles title alongside Mate Pavic.
The result is also another strong one for the mothers of the WTA, as Zvonareva, mother of Evelyn, is now into the doubles final alongside the three mothers who reached the singles quarterfinals on Monday (Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, and Tsvetana Pironkova).
“I liked the challenge that I gave to myself, being back in shape and training hard, and it’s special," said Zvonareva, who also reached the US Open singles final in 2010. "Of course I miss home, and it’s a little bit more challenging than before, because I want to spend as much time as I can with my family and my daughter, but no matter what, I’m still enjoying being here, the competition.”
Siegemund and Zvonareva claimed the tight semifinal victory with 48 winners to just 26 unforced errors, while Blinkova and Kudermetova also exhibited excellent skills with 38 winners to 31 unforced errors. It was the two extra breaks Siegemund and Zvonareva achieved in the final games of the second and third sets which swept them to victory, converting seven of their 17 break points overall.
The first set queued up the tenor of the match, as Blinkova and Kudermetova would try to use their outrageous power games to outfox the sturdy net play of Siegemund and the down-the-line ferocity of Zvonareva. After a flurry of saved break points, it would be the veterans who claimed the first break to go up 3-2.
But the youngsters blasted their way back into contention, hitting through the volleys of Siegemund and Zvonareva to level the set at 4-4. Blinkova and Kudermetova continued on that path to squeak out the set, as pinpoint returning drew errors from their opponents, including on break point at 6-5, where Zvonareva netted a shot to cede the opener to the twentysomething Russians.
Siegemund and Zvonareva, though, struck back quickly in the second set. A fiery forehand return winner down the line by the German gave her squad a love break in the first game, and they charged ahead from there, with a classic Siegemund volley giving them a second break and a commanding 5-2 lead.
At 5-2, Blinkova and Kudermetova saved two set points and converted their seventh break point of an epic game, as a forehand crosscourt return winner by Blinkova pulled them to 5-3 and kept their hopes alive in the second frame. However, Siegemund and Zvonareva regrouped, and return winners by each, back to back, gave them a love break in the next game, leveling the tilt at one set apiece.
The deciding set started with four consecutive breaks before Zvonareva found a fabulous forehand winner to quash that streak and hold for 3-2. Blinkova found herself in a dire predicament on her serve in the next game, falling behind 0-40, but missed returns by the German-Russian pair on the trio of chances allowed Blinkova to hold on and stay on serve at 3-3.
The quartet started to scamper around all sectors of the court to polish off rallies as the match approached its conclusion, and yet there were no more break points until 6-5. But in that game, the returns by the veterans found their marks relentlessly, and Kudermetova suddenly faced triple match point on her serve.
On the first match point, the volleys by Siegemund and Zvonareva were too sound, and put them into the final over the Russian youngsters. Siegemund and Zvonareva will now face the winner of Wednesday's semifinal between No.3 seeds Nicole Melichar of the United States and Xu Yifan of China and the all-American team of Asia Muhammad and Taylor Townsend.