Czechs land first doubles crown together


Top seeds Andrea Sestini Hlavackova and Barbora Strycova are the 2018 Connecticut Open doubles champions after stifling the comeback of Laura Siegemund and Su-wei Hsieh in Saturday's final.

While both accomplished doubles players, this was the Czechs’ first title together.

This was their second final this year with their previous best results coming on clay with a runner-up showing together in Rome and a run to the French Open and Madrid semi-finals.

“It’s awesome. I think it came at the best time,” Sestini Hlavackova said. “Our score other than clay courts was not that great. This week we really worked on many things. I

“I am so happy how it worked out in the final because it could have gone either way, in semis and in the final.”

Their 6-4, 6-7(7), 10-4 triumph was anything but smooth sailing with a string of momentum swings handing both pairs chances to take control of the match.

With Strycova serving for the first set, Chinese Taipei’s Hsieh showed the quick hands that had once taken her to the No.1 doubles ranking, taking the return of serve early to rip a winner into the open court.

Loose errors from Siegemund, though, helped the Czechs bring up set points and the German thumped a forehand wide to surrender the opening set 6-4.

Hsieh and Strycova had teamed up once this year already, capturing the title in Indian Wells before the Czechs began their partnership.

Hsieh/Siegemund were playing just their second event together, having reached the Brisbane semi-finals on debut in 2017 and looked to be headed for their first defeat in a final when they trailed a set and a break.

But they found another gear, breaking twice to surge to 5-3 in the second.

With Hsieh serving to level the match, however, the Czechs maintained their aggression and reeled off three straight games to leave Strycova serving for the title.

Again the set would slip the grasp of the server as the pairs headed to a tie-break.

Down 3-5, the Czechs bounced back and twice arrived at match point. Both times the trophy went begging as Siegemund went on to level the match with a winning backhand volley.

In the match tie-break, the Czechs would not allow their lead to dissipate this time. Sestini Hlavackova brought up five more match points when she rifled a forehand pass down the line and they completed the victory when Siegemund’s forehand found the net.

“We tried to work on some things, little things, for us that make a huge difference,” Strycova said. “It wasn't so much about, like, tennis, it was more about being on court together, these kind of things. It's more mental than tennis.
“We did it very good in four matches. We improved on that. This is the result. We have to still work on that, but we are on a good way.”

The Czechs now turn their focus to next week’s US Open where they will start among the title favourties.

“We are ready to bring it to the first round. This is as far as we look,” Sestini Hlavackova said. “It's Grand Slam. We will just compete as hard as possible. We'll give it all and we'll see.”