Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic survived a second-set fightback in the early hours of yesterday morning to book a spot in the doubles semi-finals at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen, China, while the Chan sisters were on the verge of elimination after their second straight defeat.
Second seeds Hsieh and Strycova outlasted Czech sixth seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova 6-1, 1-6, 10-5 in 1 hour, 15 minutes in a match that began on Tuesday, but finished after midnight.
The victory gave them a 2-0 record in the Purple Group and saw them advance to Saturday’s semi-finals at the season-ending tournament.
The reigning Wimbledon champions saved five of eight break points and converted two of three, winning 74 percent of points on their first serve to claim top spot in the group after their 6-4, 4-6, 10-5 victory over Australian Open champions Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai on Sunday.
“It was a really tough match for us, but we played really good,” doubles world No. 1 Strycova told the WTA Web site. “We helped each other, and at the end we were maybe — I would not say lucky, but we played a better tiebreak.”
Hsieh and Strycova fired 10 winners and committed just two unforced errors to race through the opening set, but the Czech duo, who won two Grand Slam titles last year, rallied to take the second.
However, the second seeds fought back in the super tiebreak to set up four match points, converting the first when Krejcikova hit a return long.
“It was our goal to qualify here,” Strycova said. “We are here and try to enjoy every moment. We have a big team, so we enjoy on and off the court as well. It’s great to be here and we are really appreciative.”
In the Red Group later yesterday, Taiwan’s Chan Hao-ching and Latisha Chan fell to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 defeat to top seeds Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka in 1 hour, 48 minutes.
The Belgian-Belarussian duo also defeated the Taiwanese sisters on grass in the round-of-16 at Wimbledon earlier this year.
The defeat left the Chan sisters — winners this year in Hobart, Australia; Doha; Eastbourne, England; and Osaka, Japan — rooted to the bottom of the group and on the verge of elimination ahead of their final group match tomorrow against Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany and Demi Schuurs of the Netherlands.
In the singles yesterday, defending champion Elina Svitolina stormed into the penultimate stage after a commanding straight-sets victory over Simona Halep.
The world No. 8 took advantage of an error-strewn Halep and prevailed 7-5, 6-3 in 1 hour, 39 minutes at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre.
Svitolina is the first player through to the semi-finals, having also beaten world No. 2 Karolina Pliskova in straight sets on Monday.
Halep still has a chance of qualifying, having overcome US Open champion Bianca Andreescu in a three-set thriller in her opening match.
Svitolina had the better of long baseline rallies against an uncharacteristically errant Halep, who finished with 38 unforced errors.
“It was an extremely physical match,” Svitolina said after the match.
“I played very solid. I’m very happy about that,” she added.
In the later Purple Group match, Andreescu retired in the second set after losing the first 6-3 to Pliskova.
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