INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - The doubles final is set at the BNP Paribas Open, with No.1 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova book a championship clash against tournament surprises Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka.
The Czechs had a tough path to the final against No.8 seeds Chan Hao-Ching (Angel) and Latisha Chan. The newly-reformed Chan sisters duo had match points in a closely fought second set, but Krejcikova and Siniakova fought their way back in it to win 5-7, 7-6(5), 10-6.
“I think that we actually played well, like even serving, returning, being active, everything,” Krejcikova assessed afterwards. “Maybe we were a little bit unlucky with some shots at some important points.
“At the end of the match, at the end of the second set and in the match tiebreak, I would say we were a little bit more lucky than them. It just a little bit turned around. And yeah, we made it and we’re going to play finals. It’s an amazing result so far."
It’s the first final of the year for the reigning French Open and Wimbledon champions, and up next they’ll take on the new pairing of Mertens and Sabalenka. Usually focused on doubles, the pair teamed up for the Australian Open and their third round run inspired them to give their partnership another shot.
“Two days ago I lost my singles match and then I went to play doubles and we won that match - for me, that’s the best recovery,” Sabalenka explained. “I mean, like, I forgot about the singles.
“It’s always nice to play doubles and stay in a tournament, especially in this tennis paradise - it’s cool to be here. It doesn’t matter singles or doubles.”
Mertens and Sabalenka had to fight through a tough ending to a ‘practically in the bag’ match against No.5 seeds Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yifan. Up 6-2, 5-2, a spate of unforced errors and missed smashes from Sabalenka had the team in hot water, but they were able to pull out the victory in a tiebreak, 6-2, 7-6(5).
“She made it for sure,” Sabalenka acknowledged. “At the end of the match, I couldn’t really play well but she did. Just a few shots more maybe, she played great. She saved a lot of points, did a great a job.”
“We both did a great job,” Mertens replied, laughing.
The Indian Wells final will be a rematch of the pair’s Australian Open third round battle, which saw saw Krejcikova and Siniakova come back from a set down to win 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.
“It doesn’t matter who we play, because it usually depends on us,” Krejcikova said. “How we play, what tactic and what stuff we want to play during the match. That’s most important and that’s what counts.
“We got to do our best and play our tennis, and if we can do that we can win.”