WUHAN, China - No.6 seeds Elise Mertens and Demi Schuurs came from a set down to seal their place in their fifth final of the season at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, coming through 4-6, 6-2, [10-3] over the unseeded Shuko Aoyama and Lidziya Marozava.
Schuurs, the overall leader in doubles titles this year with six so far, and Mertens will now have the opportunity to clinch their debut appearance in the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global with a win in tomorrow's final. Standing in their way will be No.2 seeds Andrea Sestini Hlavackova and Barbora Strycova - who themselves confirmed their Singapore place after being given a semifinal walkover by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Anastasija Sevastova due to a left thigh injury suffered by the Russian.
The Belgian-Dutch duo, though, had to do it the hard way to make the final. Aoyama, last year's runner-up alongside Yang Zhaoxuan, was bidding for her 16th WTA final and first with Marozava, and was impeccable on serve and at net as the Japanese-Belarusian pair broke each of their opponents once to take the first set.
But the Hobart and 's-Hertogenbosch champions began to display some of the form that has taken them to No.9 in the Porsche Race to Singapore in the second set, breaking Marozava off the bat before demonstrating superbly synced teamwork to finally capture the Aoyama serve in the seventh game, Mertens working the ball around the court before nailing a forehand winner.
The Birmingham and Cincinnati finalists dominated the ensuing match tiebreak, with Schuurs coming up with some magnificent net play as they leapt out to a quick 5-0 lead. The 25-year-old would also be responsible for putting her team over the line on their first match point with a pinpoint lob.
Mertens and Schuurs will now seek to repeat their 6-2, 7-6(5) upset of Sestini Hlavackova and Strycova in the first round of Eastbourne in June - the two teams' only previous encounter - in a bid to lift their third and biggest title as a partnership this year.