MIAMI, FL, USA - Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yifan had never played together before coming to Crandon Park and taking the Miami Open by storm, stunning Sania Mirza and Barbora Strycova, 6-4, 6-3, to take home the biggest title of their career.
Dabrowski had started the season with Michaella Krajicek, but injuries forced the Canadian to try other partners, pairing up with Xu, who also goes by Julie, for the first time before the second half of the Sunshine Swing. Xu spent most of last season with countrywoman Zheng Saisai, and ended the year by winning the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai with Ipek Soylu; she and Dabrowski had never been on the same court for a match - as partners or opponents - but practiced together at the BNP Paribas Open.
Once in the Miami draw, the duo lit up the field, knocking out No.8 seeds Abigail Spears and Katarina Srebotnik before upsetting three of the Top 4 seeds in succession: No.2 seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, No.4 seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Peng Shuai, and No.3 seeds Mirza and Strycova in the championship match.
Down a break to start the match, Dabrowski and Xu took eight of the next nine games to lead by a set and 4-1, and gamely served the title out at love for each woman to win their first Premier Mandatory title.
With no initial plans to play together again, it was clear the two were likely to reconsider and reunite at some point in the clay court season.
More to come...