The first WTA 1000 doubles title of the 2023 season was won by Veronika Kudermetova and Liudmila Samsonova, who defeated sisters Latisha Chan and Chan Hao-ching 6-4, 6-7(4), [10-1] in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final on Saturday.
Kudermetova and Samsonova rebounded from a second-set tiebreak loss to dominate the pivotal match-tiebreak and collect the trophy after 2 hours and 4 minutes.
"We try to be better Veronika, better Liuda every day," Kudermetova said, after their win. "I think if we improve, we will win many titles together."
Former Doubles World No.2 Kudermetova claimed her sixth career WTA doubles title with the victory. She defended her Dubai title from last year, which she won alongside Elise Mertens. It is also her first title since she won last year's season-ending WTA Finals in Fort Worth with Mertens.
By contrast, this marks Samsonova's first WTA doubles title, in her first doubles final.
"For me, it's first time, so what I can think?" Samsonova said. "It's crazy, maybe. ... It's amazing what we did today. So proud of us."
A packed crowd for a brilliant doubles final 👏— wta (@WTA) February 25, 2023
Veronika Kudermetova & @LiudaSamsonova capture the 2023 Dubai doubles title with a 6-4, 6-7(4), 10-1 win over Chan/Chan!#DDFTennis pic.twitter.com/yAEK206Xfq
Having played only one event together before this year, Kudermetova and Samsonova became regular partners this season, with Dubai being their fourth tournament of 2023. But they came into the event on a three-match losing streak, winning only their first match of the year.
However, it all clicked into place for Kudermetova and Samsonova in Dubai, sweeping to the final without losing a set. They also defeated Sania Mirza and Madison Keys in the first round, which was former WTA Doubles World No.1 Mirza’s last match before retirement.
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In the final, a Kudermetova return winner gave her squad a break for 4-3 in the first set, and they held on from there to take the opener, with Samsonova saving two break points in the last game. The Chans went 1-for-8 on break points in the set, while Kudermetova and Samsonova were 2-for-5.
Both teams held firm throughout the second set to line up a tiebreak, where Hao-ching amped up her volleys to give her team four straight set points at 6-2. Big hitting by Kudermetova and Samsonova pulled them to 6-4, but Latisha closed out the set with a backhand return winner.
In the decisive match-tiebreak, a series of fiery groundstrokes from Samsonova and two aces by Kudermetova gave their team a 6-0 lead. Kudermetova followed a netcord clipper with a backhand winner to garner eight championship points at 9-1, and Samsonova forced an error with a big return to convert the first chance.
"We have fun, and nervous also," Kudermetova said. "Look at the second set. It was a lot of up and downs. But we managed to win this final. ... A super-tiebreak, amazing, without mistake, ace, winners. We're so happy about this trophy."