With the WTA Finals in the book, the women’s tournament season has come to a close. Doubles Take looks back.
It could be argued that the field at the WTA Finals this year—held in Shenzhen, China, for the first time—was one of the strongest in recent memory: During the season, the four Grand Slams were won by different teams and they all showed up for the year-end event.
Aussie Open winners Samantha Stosur and Shuai Zhang, French Open champs Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic, Wimbledon victors Barbora Strycova and Hsieh Su-Wei, and US Open titlists Aryna Sabalenka and Elise Mertens were all there. Joining them were Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Demi Schuurs, five-time finalists in 2019; Gabriela Dabrowski and Yifan Xu; Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova; and Latisha and Hao-Ching Chan, four-time title winners this year.
With such a deep field, expectations were high for the level of play during the week—and the teams definitely didn’t disappoint.
From the round-robin stage, Babos/Mladenovic and Groenefeld/Schuurs emerged as semifinalists from the Red Group, while Hsieh/Strycova and Stosur/Zhang won out from the Purple Group.
Three out of four major winners in the later stages of a tournament is about as good as it gets. Defending champions Babos and Mladenovic rallied to top Stosur and Zhang, while Strycova and Hsieh routed Groenefeld and Schuurs.
The last two teams standing had faced each other only once this year, but it was on a rather big occasion: Strycova and Hsieh topped their WTA Finals opponents in straight sets in the Wimbledon semis. This time, right from the start, Mladenovic and Babos showed there wasn’t going to be a repeat of that result. The French-Hungarian duo raced through the first set to take it 6-1 and claimed the second 6-3 to capture the title for the second consecutive year. It was actually the third in a row for Babos, who won in 2017 with Andrea Hlavackova.
Though she lost the final, Strycova did clinch the year-end number-one doubles ranking during the tournament. That also makes her the last No. 1 of the decade with the 2020s right around the corner.
If the last WTA Finals of the decade was any indication, the years ahead promise to be quite special.
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