Cincinnati | Parks & Townsend lift doubles title

Alycia Parks & Taylor Townsend collected the first WTA 1000 doubles title of their careers at the Western & Southern Open, beating 4 Top 5 teams in the process and completing a dream week late on Saturday night when they edged past Nicole Melichar-Martinez & Ellen Perez in the final.

I’m really proud of the way that we were able to work together. I think we’ve done something better every single match. We’ve had a really tough draw to get this title. Taylor Townsend

The American pair came from a set down to defeat the No 3 seeds, 6-7(1) 6-4 [10-6], in a match that lasted 1 hour and 35 minutes, and finished in the early hours of Sunday.

“I’m really the most proud of the way that we problem-solved and the way that we controlled our energy and just really put everything into the match,” Townsend said afterwards. “I think we both left it all out there.”

The result marks the first WTA 1000 title for the two Americans, 27-year-old Townsend and 22-year-old Parks.

Overall, it is the 4th career WTA doubles title for Townsend, and the 2nd for Parks.

Parks & Townsend paired up for the first time this week, and proved to be successful upset artists by beating No 5 seeds, Ukraine’s Lyudmila Kichenok & Jelena Ostapenko from Latvia in the 2nd-round, American Desiree Krawczyk & Demi Schuurs from the Netherlands, the 4th seeds, in the quarter-finals, 2nd-seeded Australian Storm Hunter & Elise Mertens of Belgian in the semi-finals and Melichar-Martinez & Perez in the final.

During this incredible run, they dropped just 2 sets — against Schuurs & Krawczyk and against Melichar-Martinez & Perez.

“I’m really proud of the way that we were able to work together,” Townsend said. “I think we’ve done something better every single match. We’ve had a really tough draw to get this title.”

Parks added: “I really enjoyed playing with Taylor, she has always been my dream doubles partner. … She’s a very great teammate [and] person.”

Melichar-Martinez of the United States & Perez from Australia ended up as the runners-up in Cincinnati for the second season in a row, having reached 3 WTA 1000 finals in just over a year, as they still search for their first WTA 1000 title.

Runners-up Ellen Parks (L) & Nicole Melichar-Martinez pose with their trophies after losing to Taylor Townsend & Alycia Parks in the doubles final late on Saturday night

© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

There were no break points for either team in the first set, as they sped through their service games into the tiebreak.

Melichar-Martinez & Perez dominated the breaker, racing out to an early 4-0 lead before taking it 7-1 after 45 minutes, and the pair then garnered the first break point of the match at 2-1 in the second set, but Townsend escaped that service game with a hold.

In the following game, Parks & Townsend earned their first break chances of the day, and Townsend cracked a backhand return winner down the line to notch the first break by either team, and they kept that advantage through the remainder of the second set.

In the match-tiebreak, Parks fired a backhand down-the-line winner for 6-4, and Townsend bolstered their lead with a winning put-away for 7-4.

A netted Melichar-Martinez return gave Parks & Townsend triple match point at 9-6, and Parks converted their first chance with a blistering service return.

“It’s a very full circle moment for me,” Townsend said later, after securing a maiden WTA 1000 title for both herself and Parks.

Speaking during the trophy ceremony, Townsend said that it was a special moment for her as she used to visit the tournament as a fan during her childhood.

She hails from Chicago, which is the largest city in the state of Illinois and is less than 300 miles away from Cincinnati.

“Thank you to Western & Southern,” she said. “This is such an amazing event, you know, being from Chicago and this being one of the tournaments that I went to when I was younger. So it’s a very full circle moment for me.”

Townsend also thanked the fans for staying late to witness their win.

“Thank you to all the fans for watching us and supporting us has been a very long day of tennis but, hey, you got your money’s worth,” she added, with a laugh.

Townsend has been in good form on the doubles circuit this season, having played alongside Canadian Leylah Fernandez and finishing as the runners-up in the Miami Open after losing to Coco Gauff & Jessica Pegula in the final.

Townsend & Fernandez also were the runners-up at the French Open, losing to Taipei’s Hsieh Su-wei & Wang Xinyu from China in the championship match.



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