Defending doubles champs fall in title match at WTA Finals

FORT WORTH,  Nov 8:  Veronika Kudermetova and Elise Mertens beat defending champions Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova 6-2, 4-6, 11-9 to win the doubles title in the WTA Finals.

Kudermetova and Mertens won six consecutive points after falling behind 7-2 in the champions tiebreaker before closing things out on their second match point.

No. 6 Caroline Garcia faced seventh-seeded Aryna Sabalenka for the singles championship later Monday.

Krejcikova and Siniakova were trying to finish off a dominant season that included titles at all three of the Grand Slam events in which they competed.

It was just the fourth loss of the season for the Czech duo, which was trying to become the seventh doubles team to defend a WTA Finals championship.

Kudermetova and Mertens needed less than an hour to beat Desirae Krawczyk and Demi Schuurs in the semifinals, then carried over that momentum into the first set of the final.

After winning the last two games of the second set to force the tiebreaker, Krejcikova and Siniakova raced to the big lead in the tiebreaker before faltering on the temporary indoor hard court at Dickies Arena.

The event was moved to Texas from China over concerns about the safety of Peng Shuai, a Grand Slam doubles champion who accused a former government official there of sexual assault. Coronavirus restrictions also played a part in the decision. It’s the first WTA Finals in the U.S. Since 2005.

Kudermetova and Mertens avenged a loss to Krejcikova and Siniakova in the Australian Open semifinals.

Mertens is a three-time major winner in doubles, including the 2019 U.S. Open and 2021 Australian Open with Sabalenka. (AP)