Su-Wei Hsieh & Elise Mertens, the No 2 seeds at the BNP Paribas Open, won the title together after beating Veronika Kudermetova & Elena Rybakina, 7-6(1) 6-3, in Saturday’s final at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
She’s so creative. She was jumping around with a dragon hat on. I had to laugh so hard. Before a quarter-final, that gives you a lot to relax about. Elise Mertens
Mertens successfully defended the doubles title she won with Aryna Sabalenka at the most recent edition of this event in 2019, while Hsieh added 2021 to the titles she won here in 2014, with Peng Shuai, and in 2018, with Barbora Strycova, bringing her career tally of doubles trophies to 30.
“It’s really fun to play with different partners,” said the 34-year old Hsieh in the press conference later. “I collect a lot of friends.”
Mertens now has 14 WTA doubles titles to her name while, despite the loss, Kudermetova & Rybakina have also experienced success as a new pairing, reaching the final of the WTA 1000 event in only their third event together.
The Belgian and the player from Chinese Taipei, who paired up earlier this year and won the doubles together at Wimbledon this summer, took an hour and 34 minutes to prevail over Russia’s Kudermetova & Rybakina from Kazakstan.
“It was a really tight first set,” said Mertens. “I think it could have gone either way, but I think at the tiebreak we played more solid than them.
“They put their first serve in and it was definitely difficult to get the advantage.
“We tried to play aggressive — Su-Wei at the net, me from the back so she can cross. It all clicked a little bit better in the second set.
“So we are really, really happy with the win, and qualified for the [Akron WTA] Finals, so very happy for that too.”
The two former Doubles World No 1 players have already established themselves as a formidable pair on the WTA Tour and, having only played 8 tournaments as a team, they have picked up two massive titles, with Kudermetova being one of their vanquished runners-up each time – Hsieh & Mertens saved match points to beat Kudermetova & Elena Vesnina in an epic Wimbledon final.
For Rybakina, this was the 22-year old’s first doubles final on tour.
On Saturday, the pairs exchanged service breaks twice in the seesaw opening set, which came down to a tiebreak, which Kudermetova started with aplomb via a powerful overhead winner, but double-faults then crept into the Russian’s game, as she hit 2 in a row to hand over a 4-1 lead.
Two points later, an ace by Hsieh gave the No 2 seeds two set points, and they converted on their first chance when a despondent Kudermetova smashed into the net from inside the service line.
They traded breaks twice again in the early stages of the second set, but the canny play of Hsieh & Mertens kept them mostly in charge, often drawing overhead errors from their opponents in the bright sun.
Hsieh & Mertens pulled off the crucial break of Kudermetova’s serve at 5-3, and Mertens wrapped up the win as her solid service sealed another title for her team.
“She’s so creative,” said Mertens of her partner, who before their quarter-final against Coco Gauff & Leylah Fernandez sported some unorthodox headgear.
“She was jumping around with a dragon hat on. I had to laugh so hard. Before a quarter-final, that gives you a lot to relax about.”
Hsieh & Mertens were stellar returning second serves, winning 70 percent of those points on the day, which helped them ease through the two relatively close sets, even though they were out-winnered by Kudermetova & Rybakina by 20 to 16.