Our 2021 women’s doubles champions have been crowned.
Elise Mertens is back in the winner’s circle at the BNP Paribas Open, having successfully defended her women’s doubles title at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, albeit with a different partner, Su-Wei Hsieh.
The Belgian-Chinese Taipei duo defeated Veronika Kudermetova of Russia and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan in the championship match, 7-6(1), 6-3, on Saturday in Stadium 1. It was the latest triumph for Mertens/Hsieh, who raised the trophy at Wimbledon this summer. In winning, they qualified for the year-end WTA Finals.
Hsieh was in familiar territory. She also won the title in 2014 (with Peng Shuai of China) 2018 (with Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic). Saturday’s doubles title was the 30th of her career.
“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.”
The foes twice exchanged service breaks in the seesaw opening set, which would come down to a tiebreak. Kudermetova, who earlier this year claimed her first WTA singles title in Charleston, swatted an overhead into the net to surrender the set at 1-6 in the breaker.
Kudermetova/Rybakina struck first in the second set with a break for 2-1, but their opponents would reel off five of the next six games to clinch the one-hour, 34-minute matchup.
“She’s so creative,” said Mertens of her partner, who before their quarterfinal against Coco Gauff and Leylah Fernandez sported some unorthodox headgear. “She was jumping around with a dragon hat on. I had to laugh so hard. Before a quarterfinal, that gives you a lot to relax about.”