No.6 seeds Laura Siegemund and Vera Zvonareva charged through the field in Mexico to capture the GNP Seguros WTA Finals Cancun doubles title, wrapping up the week with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over No.8 seeds Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Ellen Perez in Monday's final.
The prestigious title caps off an incredible second half of the season for Siegemund and Zvonareva. They have won four titles this year, all in the past four months: Washington D.C., Ningbo, Nanchang (a title they had to win in order to qualify for the WTA Finals), and now this week in Cancun. They also reached this year's US Open final.
Fast facts: Siegemund, 35, and Zvonareva, 39, are two of the three oldest players to have qualified for Cancun in either doubles or singles this year (fellow 35-year-old Shuko Aoyama is slightly older than Siegemund).
But experience proved to be a factor in their favor. The 2020 US Open champions Siegemund and Zvonareva notched three wins in the past two days en route to the year-end championships title, in their first qualification as a partnership.
Zvonareva had previously qualified for the WTA Finals in doubles way back in 2007, as well as five times in singles (she was the 2008 WTA Finals singles runner-up, losing in the final to Venus Williams). This week marked Siegemund's WTA Finals debut.
Zvonareva, who gave birth to daughter Evelina in 2016, is the first mother to win the doubles event at the WTA Finals since Cara Black in 2014.
As for Siegemund, she is the first German to ever win the WTA Finals doubles title. Claudia Kohde-Kilsch made five doubles finals at the WTA Finals during the 1980s, once alongside fellow German Eva Pfaff, but none of those chances were converted into titles.
Meanwhile, Melichar-Martinez and Perez ended an excellent week by reaching the final as the lowest-seeded team in the field. However, they finish 2023 with an 0-5 record in finals this year.
Match moments: In the first set, both teams were superb saving break points, so Siegemund and Zvonareva’s sole break of Perez for 2-1 proved to be decisive. Melichar-Martinez and Perez saved the other seven break points they faced in the set, but that was not enough as Siegemund and Zvonareva erased all five they stared down.
"Everything was tight and close," Zvonareva said. "And then we got a few small opportunities to take a break. And I think we did great on those opportunities. Every single opportunity that we had, we took advantage of."
In the second set, Siegemund cracked a backhand crosscourt winner to break Melichar-Martinez at love, again to lead 2-1. But on deciding point in the next game, Melichar-Martinez fired a winning volley, earning her team’s first break of the day and leveling the set at 2-2.
In the very next game, though, back-to-back groundstroke winners by Zvonareva lined up another deciding point. Perez then ceded her serve with a double fault, putting Siegemund and Zvonareva up a break once more.
At 5-4, Zvonareva saw the first two championship points on her serve swiped away, but brilliant volleying by Siegemund made sure the third time was the charm, completing the win after 1 hour and 38 minutes.