Editor's note: From Monday to Thursday this week, we will look at the road each of the eight singles players and eight doubles took to qualify for this year's WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas.
Season at a glance
After teaming up for a handful of events last year, China’s Xu Yifan and Yang Zhaoxuan became a regular partnership in 2022. However, it took a stroke of luck to kickstart their season.
Initially, Xu and Yang did not have a high enough combined ranking to get into WTA 1000 Indian Wells after their 6-5 start to the year. However, Barbora Krejcikova withdrew from doubles just before the event started, and Xu and Yang became the last team to receive direct entry.
Hanging around in the desert paid off, as Xu and Yang charged all the way to the champions' trophy, which was the first WTA 1000 title for Yang, 27, and the second career 1000 title for 34-year-old Xu.
A Roland Garros quarterfinal and another Californian title, in San Jose, contributed to their WTA Finals qualification. Yang will make her Finals debut, while Xu was a three-time qualifier alongside Gabriela Dabrowski from 2017 through 2019.
Xu and Yang are the first all-Chinese pair to play the doubles event at the WTA Finals since Yan Zi and Zheng Jie qualified as a team in 2006 after they won that year's Australian Open and Wimbledon titles.