ROME, Italy -- The team of Hsieh Su-wei of Chinese Taipei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic are back in business, as the No.1 seeds claimed their fourth title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Anna-Lena Friedsam of Germany and Raluca Olaru of Romania.
Playing their first event together since the resumption of the tour, the duo picked up right where they left off before the hiatus. The 63-minute victory pushed their 2020 win-loss record to an astounding 21-1, with titles in Brisbane, Dubai, and Doha preceding their triumph on the clay courts of Rome.
"After five months, you don't know what to expect," Strycova said, during the team's post-match press conference. "In doubles, you have a small court and it's tough to get into the rhythm. But I felt like we started off [well] right away from the first match. I felt we were playing better and better."
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"[The win-loss record] is incredible, but for me, more incredible is that we are so consistent in our performances, which is really important," Strycova added. "The winning is a huge plus, but we’re working on it every single day, with Su-wei, on court, to get better, and it’s paying off."
A loss in the Australian Open final to Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic is the only blemish on an otherwise flawless year for the top seeds, and they showed their best against the unseeded pairing of Friedsam and Olaru, who had upset two seeded tandems on the way to their first final as a team.
"It’s amazing to see Barbora again, we’ve played together since last year, and we did a really great job at a lot of tournaments," said Hsieh. "I feel stable, safe. When Barbora is on court, I’m safe!" laughed the player from Chinese Taipei.
Hsieh and Strycova, who did not drop a set all week, converted five of their seven break points on Sunday. In the final, the team only dropped serve once while claiming a whopping 82 percent of points when they got their first serves into play.
"Today, the key was to play our game," said Strycova. "It's always a key to play our game. And then if it's not working, we have to come out with a Plan B. Today it was working right from the beginning. I thought I was returning very well, and Su-Wei was reacting at the net, as always, very well."
In the opening frame, Hsieh and Strycova took charge at 2-1, where a superb backhand volley by the Czech gave her squad triple break point. On the first of those three chances, Olaru hit her second double fault of the game to give Hsieh and Strycova a 3-1 lead.
The top seeds were off like a flash from there in the first set, as they held their next two service games with the loss of only one point total en route to 5-2. With Olaru serving to stay in the match in the next game, it was once again Strycova who queued up two set points with a winning volley. On the deciding point, the Czech did it again, sticking her shot at net to claim the set.
The No.1 seeds were on a roll as the second set kicked off, as both Hsieh and Strycova found magical precision with their returns and groundstrokes to earn a break at love for 2-0. However, Friedsam and Olaru struck back quickly, using powerful shots to earn their first break of the day in the next game to pull back on serve at 2-1.
Olaru fell behind 0-30 in her team’s next service game, but once again, big hitting by her and her partner pulled her out of that jam, and they held on for 2-2. But on Friedsam’s service at 3-2, a game point was erased by a sturdy Strycova return, and on the deciding point, Friedsam fired a forehand miscue into the net, giving the top seeds a 4-2 advantage.
In the next game, Hsieh fell behind 0-30 on her serve, but from that point forward, her double-handed backhands kicked into top gear, as she pulled herself through that service game for 5-2. The subsequent game slipped away from Olaru, as, facing the deep deficit, the Romanian fired three double faults, including on match point, to cede the title to the top seeds.