Third seeds Sania Mirza and Barbora Strycova today beat the second seeded pair of Hao-Ching Chan and Yung-jan Chan 6-4, 3-6, 10-7 in the semi-finals of the WTA Wuhan Open in China to progress to the finals.
The match was a closely fought one, with the Indo-Czech pair taking the first break of the match to lead 2-1 early on. With speedy forehand volleys smashed from either side of the net, the Chan/Chan combine did not back down, with each team taking successive breaks as they covered most of the court.
Spectators were treated to seven straight breaks of serve tonight, with each team reaching deep and scooping shots over the net. A couple of easy shots found the net on occasion, with experienced campaigner Strycova committing an uncharacteristic double fault at a crucial moment.
Leading 5-4 and ready to serve for the set, Mirza closed it out with a whopping forehand that Hao-ching Chan was unable to return effectively.
On the back of consecutive breaks, the second set was not expected to be one-sided, and this time it was the turn of the pair from Chinese Taipei to play singularly attacking tennis. The tall Hao-ching Chan in particular dialed up her shots, and decided to take both Mirza and Strycova on on occasion. Locked in a one-on-one battle with Strycova for a relatively longer rally, Hao-ching then sent a forehand across the court to flummox the Indian World No. 1.
Chan and Chan saved two of three break points in that set, and quickly raced to a 3-0 lead. Taking that quickly to 4-2, the pair decided to shift from baseline to net, with the rallies now becoming progressively longer as Mirza and Hao-ching put some precise shot placement on display as their teammates contributed significantly to the score.
With a few loose forehands from Yung-jan and Hao-ching, Mirza and Strycova were able to claw back to reduce their deficit to 3-4, but a now aggressive Yung-jan and Hao-ching broke immediately to take a 5-3 lead and serve for the second set. The third seeds were able to save off the first set point, and at one point even looked to be able to pull off the impossible, Yung-jan sent a long but accurate shot missed by Strycova, giving the Chinese Taipei combine the second set, 6-3.
Having now forced a decider, Chan and Chan turned up the attack. Revelling in points, the two played close rallies with Mirza and Strycova, with teams going neck and neck until the very end.
A scooped, angled shot off the racquet of Sania Mirza was completely out of reach for Hao-ching Chan, and gave the third seeds a 9-7 lead – and match point. Strycova finished the match off with a simple forehand lob to book the pair’s spot in the finals of the event.
Interestingly, Barbora Strycova managed to finish in the quarter-finals of the singles here, putting up a fight against semi-finalist Dominika Cibulkova, who will play Petra Kvitova tomorrow.
The Indo-Czech pair have already won two titles since coming together in August, at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, and the recently concluded Toray Pan Pacific Open in Japan.
Mirza and Strycova will meet Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova in the finals tomorrow.