Top seeds Hsieh Su-Wei and Barbora Strycova are the Brisbane International 2020 doubles champions, saving a match point in a gripping final to deny hometown favourite Ashleigh Barty and Kiki Bertens on Sunday.
The reigning Wimbledon champions bounced back from a set and a break down to prevail 3-6 7-6(7) [10-8].
Strycova said all four women sustained a high level throughout the one-hour, 48-minute showdown.
“Kiki and Ash well done for a great week and especially for that match. I think we were playing all really great tennis,” Strycova said.
“I’d like to thank Su-Wei, my amazing partner … Especially the match point, because she’s sometimes playing shots that I don’t understand, but it’s amazing so thank you for being on my side.
“I had 10 years break from this tournament. I was playing always Auckland and I was questioning myself why I did that because you guys are amazing and Brisbane you are really amazing.”
On the eve of her home tournament, Barty pledged to donate her entire Brisbane International prize money to the Red Cross to help Australia’s bushfire relief efforts.
That came to $A92,800 on top of the $A30,000 she had already donated to the RSPCA.
“It’s been really great to be back on the competition court this week and I think with everything that’s been going on in Australia, the way everyone has been coming together has just been incredible,” Barty said.
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“All in all I’m bloody proud to be an Aussie so thank you very much everyone.”
The 22-year-old tipped her hat to the world’s top-ranked duo.
“Congratulations girls, it was a hell of a match,” Barty said.
“It set the tone for the season and it’s always good fun for me personally on the doubles court so I was very happy when my good friend Kiki agreed to play with me here in my beautiful hometown of Brisbane.
“It was a lot of fun this week so thanks mate.”
When Queenslander Barty and Dutchwoman Bertens charged through the opening set and snared early break for 2-1 in the second set, they were well on course to capture their first title together.
But momentum proved elusive for either team in a set strewn with six service breaks.
In a searching 30-shot rally in the tie-break, Hsieh was caught out on a backhand volley winner from Bertens, drawing a rousing ovation from the crowd on a packed Pat Rafter Arena.
The top seeds dug deep, saving a championship point on Hsieh’s serve and the match was all square four points later.
Hsieh and Strycova carried their momentum into the match tie-break as they raced to a 6-1 lead.
But Barty and Bertens gave a vocal crowd plenty to cheer on as they reeled off four straight points to narrow the margin to 6-5.
The Czech, Strycova, stepped up when it mattered most, charging the net off a return to pick off a forehand volley.
It brought up two championship points for the No.1 seeds and the title was theirs two points later.