Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei & Elise Mertens from Belgium decided to rekindle their successful partnership this season after parting ways in 2021, after they won the Wimbledon doubles title together, and now they have added the Australian Open title to their illustrious careers.
For me, most important is having some fun. Sometime you can laugh, even [if you're] losing 0-5 on the court, is not a big deal. It's always teamwork. Hsieh Su-Wei
On Sunday, on Rod Laver Arena at Melbourne Park, Hsieh & Mertens, the No 2 seeds, produced an emphatic performance to beat the Latvian-Ukrainian pairing of Jelena Ostapenko & Lyudmyla Kichenok, 6-1 7-5, to lift the trophy after an hour and 33 minutes of play.
“These are the stages you want to win,” Mertens said in their press conference afterwards. “As long as we still enjoy it, and still get that motivation and everything, I think it’s just very important. … Of course it’s a bit nerve-racking. You know, these matches are what you play for.”
This is Mertens’ 4th Grand Slam title in women’s doubles, and her first since she teamed with Hsieh to win 2021 Wimbledon.
It is also the Belgian’s second Australian Open title, having won the 2021 championship in Melbourne alongside the current singles champion, Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus.
As a result, Mertens returns to the WTA Doubles World No 1 spot after this event, having held this first in May 2021, while Hsieh, another former top-ranked doubles player, rises from No 6 to No 2 on Monday.
38-year-old Hsieh called time on her singles career after losing in the 1st-round of qualifying at Melbourne Park this year, but she still claimed her second title Down Under after also winning the mixed doubles final partnering Jan Zielinski from Poland on Friday, and now she is the second-oldest woman to win a Grand Slam doubles title, behind Lisa Raymond.
The win over Ostapenko & Kichenok sealed Hsieh’s 7th major women’s doubles crown, to go with the four she has won at Wimbledon and two at Roland Garros, while Mertens takes her tally to 4 Grand Slam doubles titles.
Hsieh & Mertens broke in the 3rd game of the final to gain the early advantage, and never looked back, closing out the opening set with a minimum of fuss.
After grabbing the routine first set against the No 11 seeds, the second became a sterner test for Hsieh & Mertens, and was close from the start.
Powerful hitting by Kichenok & Ostapenko helped them erase 9 game points against them spanning the first 2 games as they grabbed a 2-0 lead, having broken Mertens’ serve in a 12-minute opening game of the set.
The advantage did not last long, though, with 31-year-old Kichenok broken to love in the 4th game, as Mertens & Hsieh regained control with deft lobs by the Belgian, and stellar volleys from the Taiwanese, allowing the 2nd seeds to reel off 5 of the next 6 games, first breaking back to level at 2-2 and then again for a 5-3 lead.
Mertens, though, then failed to serve out the match, and Kichenok & Ostapenko drew level again at 5-5, but any hopes of the 11th seeds staging an impressive come-back were squashed as Hsieh pulled off a clutch hold to lead 6-5.
The champions raced to triple championship point on the Ukrainian’s serve, and a netted volley by the Latvian gave them a break to love in the 12th game to close out their victory in 92 minutes.
“Congratulations, girls, for playing a great match,” Mertens said on court during the trophy ceremony.. “The second set was really close, and we had to fight really hard today. Thanks everyone for coming out.”
The crucial difference was that Hsieh & Mertens won 77% of points returning their opponents’ second serves in the final.
“For me, most important is having some fun,” Hsieh told the media. “Sometime you can laugh, even [if you’re] losing 0-5 on the court, is not a big deal. It’s always teamwork.”
“We have so much fun, honestly,” Mertens said. “Off court, on court. I mean, it’s very fun to play with Su-wei.
“I don’t know what she’s doing sometimes, but…” Mertens added, to laughter.
The win snaps the red-hot start to the season for World No 27 Kichenok and Ostapenko, ranked 29 in doubles, who together scooped up a WTA 500 title in Brisbane earlier this month, and were on a 9-match winning streak.
Meanwhile for Hsieh, it caps a memorable fortnight in Melbourne as she becomes the first woman to win the Australian Open doubles and mixed doubles titles in the same year since Australian Rennae Stubbs in 2000, and is just the third woman in the Open era to achieve this feat after matching Margaret Court in 1969.
Hsieh now holds 3 of the 4 women’s Grand Slam titles after winning at Roland-Garros with China’s Wang Xinyu, and Wimbledon with Czech Barbora Strycova last season.
As for Mertens, her second Australian Open title takes the 27-year-old back to the top of World Doubles rankings.
On Saturday, India’s Rohan Bopanna & Matthew Ebden from Australia dug deep to win the AO men’s doubles title with a 7-6(0) 7-5 victory over the Italian pair of Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori.