Nicole Melichar and Demi Schuurs scored another big win for the doubles specialists on the WTA Tour, capturing their second title of the season and third team title at the Volvo Car Open. The top seeds defeated the Czech duo of Marie Bouzkova and Lucie Hradecka in the final, 6-4, 6-2. The win is Schuurs' 14th career title and Melichar's 10th, and moved the American into the Top 10 for the first time in her career. Having also pocketed a WTA 500 title at the Qatar Total Open in March, Melichar/Schuurs will rise to No.3 on the Porsche Race to Shenzhen Leaderboard on Monday.
"What I love about the doubles circuit this year, you see more doubles teams," Melichar told WTA Insider. "You have the Japanese girls Shuko and Ena, you have Carter/Stefani, you have Demi and me, you have Guarachi/Krawczyk. You have more true doubles teams, players that aren't playing singles.
"I just love that there's more depth in doubles. We're always cheering for the doubles players to go through because we have each other's backs and I think that's really nice. It's nice to see almost a week in and week out that true doubles players are winning these titles. And I think that's something for us doubles players to be really proud of."
Melichar and Schuurs spoke to WTA Insider after their title run to reflect on their successful partnership, which they locked in during the off-season, and weigh in on the 2021 doubles season so far and why it has been a showcase for the tour's true doubles teams.
WTA Insider: How would you sum up your week in Charleston and what was the key to winning your third team title?
Schuurs: I think we had a great week overall. I think we actually needed maybe the first set in the first match to get used to each other on clay, but then afterwards I think we both played a really good level. Some points or some such games, I think Nikki played better, then I was playing better. So it was just fitting and matching to each other.
I think especially yesterday in the semifinals, we played two good doubles players (Gabriela Dabrowski and Asia Muhammed). We played really well, it was a good win, and of course, that gives you some confidence.
I think we're just happy about the title, but also happy that we know from each other and we know as a team that we can play really well on any surface. We didn't play on grass yet, but if you ask us both what is the favorite surface, I think we both say grass. We had a great start of the year, so we're just happy about that.
WTA Insider: You're both experienced doubles players and know each other well. Is it tricky at all when two veteran doubles players team up?
Melichar: I think it depends, because you can put two good players together and that doesn't necessarily mean they will play well together. I think Demi and I, I have certain strengths and she has certain strengths and we can combine them. So I think we really complement each other well.
I think what's special about us is that we can be very open in our communication and we have a high level of respect for each other that we can sort of tell each other as it is without getting offended, but still be open about it and work on certain things. So I think that's the most important, that we can communicate. And we seem to have most of our bases covered on the court with strengths and weaknesses. So I think that's really special.
WTA Insider: How did your partnership come about?
Melichar: I think it's a little bit of everything. We've been working with the same coach and in the past, because we were working with the same coach, we practiced a lot together. I think we both found that our games could complement each other. We definitely had the seed in our mind that maybe it could be a good partnership.
When my partner from last year, Xu Yifan, couldn't go to Europe, I was able to play with Demi in Rome and Strasbourg, and we won the title in Strasbourg. I think that was kind of a good push in the right direction to maybe test the waters a little bit.
Schuurs: I think we can also tell you that one year ago, we also were also in touch a little bit. But we also realized maybe we're not ready yet to play together because we were both trying to improve more in our mental game and game on court. So then we both found a different partner. Both of them a little bit older, more experienced, and I think we both learned from them as well.
At the end of last year, we got in touch. Of course, we knew each other and now we felt like, yes, now we are ready to play together and we feel strong enough to win those titles and win matches.
For me in the past, I always played a maximum of one year with someone and now I found Nicole and she is the same age as me. So it also feels like we want to see it as an investment, to invest and play maybe more than one year together, maybe three, two, three, four. You never know.
But I think that was for me, the biggest change. First of all, we felt like we were ready to play. And second of all, I have someone where I'm going to invest as a team, also personally of course, but invest in each other and then maybe play longer than a year and be a strong team on tour for more years.
WTA Insider: Demi, you looked pretty shocked when you found out you won a Volvo.
Schuurs: Someone told me at the beginning of the week and I was like, yeah right. I told Nikki, it's probably a joke because I cannot understand that they do it for doubles, too. So first of all, I want to say we both appreciate it very much that they did this for doubles.
But then we were talking about it yesterday and Nicole said, 'OK, let's go for the title and we have the car.' But I wasn't thinking about it too much because I didn't want to be disappointed. So today I was actually not thinking about it anymore and then we won the title.
Very happy because I like cars, so that's good. I still don't know, which one I'm going to choose, but yeah, I'm very happy. Kiki Bertens [2018 Champion] and I can go on a Volvo tour.
Melichar: My boyfriend's been trying to get me to get a new car for a long time now because the car I drive is from 2006. It's a stick shift. Most people don't even know how to drive stick anymore, which will make me a little sad.
But yeah, obviously I'm thrilled. Honestly, I wasn't thinking about the car going into the match because I didn't even know if it was true. But with my boyfriend before every match leading up to now, it was just like, 'Hey, if you win, you get sushi.' And then today it was like, 'No, if I win I get pizza.'
So I was thinking about the pizza, but now I got a car. So I got a car and pizza. It's great!
WTA Insider: Stepping back a bit, what do you make of the 2021 Doubles Season so far?
Melichar: What I love about the doubles circuit this year, you see more doubles teams. You have the Japanese girls Shuko and Ena, you have Carter/Stefani, you have Demi and me, you have Guarachi/Krawczyk. You have more true doubles teams, players that aren't playing singles.
I just love that there's more depth in doubles. We're always cheering for the doubles players to go through because we have each other's backs and I think that's really nice. It's nice to see almost a week in and week out that true doubles players are winning these titles. And I think that's something for us doubles players to be really proud of.
Schuurs: I told Nikki last week, I'm so happy to see who was playing well, who's playing the semis, finals at all the events this year, it's the doubles teams. That's really nice to see. And of course, all the single players play really good doubles as well, because they also have good basics, good service, good returns. So it's always tough to beat them. But if you see overall the doubles teams, they're all working pretty hard and I think it's nice and they deserve it as well.
So it's just good to see that the doubles teams at this point are leading the doubles and taking the trophies home.
WTA Insider: Do you see any trends or reasons as to why the pure doubles teams are finding more success this season?
Schuurs: Not really. I still think it's tough to beat single players. They always serve good, they return good, and that's how the point starts. So it's always tough to beat them.
But I think if you if you are a really good doubles team, you are just controlling the net and I always say you win at doubles at the net because that's something where we can make a difference between us and single players because we just have a better net game because we're practicing it more than they do.
I think that's the way how to beat them, to play real doubles. Sometimes it is tough, but right now, at this point, I feel like some doubles teams have found the way to beat the single players and try to find a way to play real doubles.