SINGAPORE - The top two seeded teams will battle for the doubles trophy at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global after No.2 Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic edged past Ashleigh Barty and CoCo Vandeweghe 6-7(5), 6-3, 10-8 to reach the final.
The match was a battle between two 2018 Grand Slam winning duos, with Australian Open champions Mladenovic and Babos facing off against US Open winners Barty and Vandeweghe - who defeated them in the final en route to victory in New York.
“It was once more a very, very close match, it reminded me a lot of that US Open final,” Mladenovic said afterwards. “At the end of the first set, it was a tiebreak again. And the super-tiebreak as well, it reminded me of the third set tiebreak at the US Open!
“So it was a little bit of an unlucky feeling, but we really tried to mentally stay tough until the last point, not lose rhythm and momentum. We also learned a bit their patterns, so I think in this match we were way more ready.”
Both teams were formed in 2018 as childhood friends Mladenovic and Babos reunited in Melbourne and Barty and Vandeweghe teamed up at Indian Wells.
The two teams have been regular rivals throughout the season, clashing four times across three surfaces. Their head-to-head record was tied at 2-2 coming into this match, with Barty and Vandeweghe claiming both hardcourt wins in Miami and US Open, and Mladenovic and Babos winning at Birmingham and Madrid.
“It helps when you’ve played a team a few times,” Mladenovic said. “This win is extremely satisfying for us, because of that super tough loss at the US Open. We always say after those tough losses that we never lose, but we always learn.”
Babos and Mladenovic combined for 29 winners and five aces - offsetting their 23 unforced errors - throughout the contest, outpacing Barty and Vandeweghe’s 14 winners and 21 errors. The match was a tightly contested affair from start to finish, with the No.2 seeds rising to the occasion in the big moments to claim the victory.
The two teams traded breaks to start the opening set, Barty and Vandeweghe opening up a 2-0 lead before Babos and Mladenovic fought their way back to level at 2-2. Both teams were aggressive throughout, and they marched to a tiebreak to decide the set - Barty and Vandeweghe edging through and converting their second set point.
Babos and Mladenovic bossed the proceedings in the second set, getting ahead an early break at 3-1 and fighting to consolidate to a 5-3 lead. They had to fight off a pair of break points as Barty and Vandeweghe looked to take the set into a tiebreaker, but they held firm to force a match tiebreak.
The No.2 seeds dominated the match tiebreak, starting with 6-1 lead, but things started to get complicated as they lost their rhythm and Vandeweghe and Barty got fired up. The US Open winners reeled off six points in a row to level the score, but Mladenovic and Babos eked out the win, triumphing after an hour and 38 minutes.
Awaiting them in the final are the top seeds and co-World No.1s Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova - French Open and Wimbledon champions - who swept past fellow Czechs Barbora Strycova and Andrea Sestini Hlavackova 6-3, 6-2 earlier in the day.
This article was first seen on www.wtatennis.com.