It will be a No.1 vs. No.2 women's doubles championship match at 2022 Wimbledon.
No.1 seeds Elise Mertens and Zhang Shuai battled to a tough women's doubles semifinal victory on Friday, outlasting unseeded Danielle Collins and Desirae Krawczyk 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 and moving into Sunday's final.
Playing just their third event together as a team, Zhang and WTA Doubles World No.1 Mertens needed 1 hour and 42 minutes to successfully fend off a comeback by the Americans.
Defending champion Mertens now has a chance to win consecutive Wimbledon titles with two different partners. The Belgian, who is seeking her fourth Grand Slam doubles title overall, claimed the title last year alongside Hsieh Su-wei.
Zhang, who is into the Wimbledon final for the first time, is going for her third Grand Slam title in women's doubles. Her two previous major titles came paired with Samantha Stosur, at the 2019 Australian Open and last year's US Open.
Mertens and Zhang had not dropped a set all week and started the semifinal off blisteringly as well, racing to a 4-0 lead. Zhang's volleys were precise, and Mertens found excellent serves to come back from 0-30 down in the last game of the opener, closing out the one-set lead with an ace.
But from a set and a break down, Collins and Krawczyk scooped up the second set, taking charge at the net and breaking Mertens for 5-3 en route to parity. The Americans won 18 percent of their second-serve points in the first set but 64 percent of those in the second set.
However, Mertens and Zhang regrouped at the end of the third set, using sublime communication to triumph in extended points and break Krawczyk in a long 4-3 game. Mertens fired solid volleys in the final game on the way to match point, where Collins sent a return wide.
The seedings predicted the final perfectly this fortnight, as Mertens and Zhang will now take on No.2 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova for the Wimbledon title.
In the earlier semifinal on Centre Court, Krejcikova and Siniakova cruised past No.4 seeds Lyudmyla Kichenok and Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-2.
The Czechs, who are long-time doubles partners dating back to juniors, took 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach the Wimbledon women's doubles final for the second time. Krejcikova and Siniakova claimed the title in 2018, the year they won Roland Garros and Wimbledon back-to-back.
Krejcikova and Siniakova dominated on return, allowing Kichenok and Ostapenko to win only 42 percent of their first-service points. The Czech duo, who were Olympic gold medalists in women's doubles last year, converted six of their eight break points to sweep to victory.
The Czechs will now attempt to claim their fifth Grand Slam women's doubles title as a team, and their second of the year. Krejcikova and Siniakova already won this year's Australian Open title, defeating Anna Danilina and Beatriz Haddad Maia in the final.