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Doubles finalists decided at Indian Wells

The final of the BNP Paribas Open will see Hsieh Su-wei & Elise Mertens pitch their skills against Veronika Kudermetova & Elena Rybakina on Friday.

We're really happy to be in the final here in Indian Wells. It's a big, huge tournament and we're super happy. To be honest, I think today we played not really well. It wasn't our best tennis, but we were motivated and we tried our best. Veronika Kudermetova

Hsieh & Mertens, the No 2 seeds, stormed past Japan’s Shuko Aoyama & Ena Shibahara, seeded 3, in just 54 minutes, dropping just 2 games in the opening set.

The win boosts the Taiwanese veteran and her Belgian partner’s chances of qualifying for the WTA Finals next month.

Both have won the title here at Indian Wells with different partners, and now have the opportunity to play for the BNP Paribas Open trophy together.

“We’re very happy about the performance,” Mertens said after the match. “Just everything clicked today.

“[Winning Indian Wells together] would mean a lot. It’s one of the biggest tournaments in the tennis world, so we’re just trying to enjoy the moment and play with my partner and friend.”

Aoyama & Shibahara, who have already qualified for their first season-ending WTA Finals, saved 6 of 11 break points, but were powerless to stop the experienced Hsieh & Mertens, who have won 5 titles this year, the season’s best, and won the last 9 games of the match.

The Japanese also struggled on both their first and second serves, allowing Hsieh & Mertens to blitz past them and into the showpiece of the event often referred to as the ‘5th Grand Slam’.

They will play Russia’s Kudermetova & Rybakina of Kazakhstan after the unseeded pair felled Lyudmyla Kichenok & Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets, 6-4 6-3, in an hour and 15 minutes.

In reaching the final, Hsieh & Mertens, who are in 5th place on the Prosche Race to the WTA Finals, have boosted their hopes of making Guadalajara next month as they are 19 points behind US Open champions Zhang Shuai & Samantha Stosur ahead of Indian Wells.

China No 1 Zhang and her Australian partner did not play in the California desert, allowing Hsieh & Mertens to gain ground on them and the 3rd-placed team of Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Demi Schuurs.

The 5th seeds at Indian Wells, Schuurs and Melichar Martinez went out to the unseeded teen duo of Coco Guaff & Leylah Fernandez in the 2nd round.

Hsieh & Mertens beat the teenage pair in the quarter-finals before knocking out the Japanese 3rd seed, one of two doubles teams to have already qualified for the WTA Finals.

The other pair, Indian Wells top seeds Barbora Krejckova & Katerina Siniakova, were beaten by Kichenok and Ostapenko in the quarters.

The WTA Finals will see the top 8 singles players and doubles pairings on the Race to the WTA Finals standings from November

This year’s event has been moved to Guadalajara from its original home of Shenzhen because of Covid-19 travel restrictions in China.

Elena Rybakina & Veronika Kudermetova reached the doubles final with a straight sets win over Lyudmyla Kichenok & Jelena Ostapenko at Indian Wells

© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

On Friday, Mertens will have the opportunity to defend the title she won last year alongside Aryna Sabalenka, while Hsieh bids for a 3rd title in the California desert after winning in 2014 with Peng Shuai and in 2018 with Barbora Strycova.

In the second, all-unseeded semi-final, Kudermetova & Rybakina denied Ostapenko the opportunity to add a berth in the doubles final to her singles semi-final showing this week.

The Russian-Kazakh pair, who have played 3 tournaments together this year, advanced to their first final together in 75 minutes, and notably, did not need a match tiebreak to secure the win.

In their first 3 matches this week, which included a second-round upset over No 4 seeds Desirae Krawczyk & Alexa Guarachi, they were taken the full distance.

“We’re really happy to be in the final here in Indian Wells,” Kudermetova said. “It’s a big, huge tournament and we’re super happy.

“To be honest, I think today we played not really well. It wasn’t our best tennis, but we were motivated and we tried our best.”

Kudermetova & Rybakina landed 71% of their first serves, and broke their opponents 6 times.

From 3-3 in the opener, they won 3 of the last 4 games to take a one-set lead, and although they failed to serve out the win at 5-2, they secured victory on their 3rd match point with another break.

Though Hsieh & Mertens and Kudermetova & Rybakina have never played, the No 2 seeds have history with the Russian, having beaten her and Elena Vesnina to win Wimbledon, saving match points along the way.



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