MERTENS AND SABALENKA CAP OFF SUNSHINE DOUBLE WITH MIAMI OPEN DOUBLES TITLEBy Tucker Verdi
Miami Gardens, FL — Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka have won the women’s doubles championship at the 2019 Miami Open presented by Itaú. They defeated Sam Stosur and Zhang Shuai, 7-6(5), 6-2, to win their first Miami Open title.
Mertens and Sabalenka, fresh off their victory in Indian Wells, came into the tournament aiming for the Sunshine Double. They advanced to the final in nearly-flawless fashion, only dropping one set and knocking off No. 5 seed Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yifan in the quarters and Victoria Azarenka and Ashleigh Barty — the women’s singles champion — in the semis.
Their opponents were fresh off a big title as well, as Sam Stosur and Zhang Shuai won the doubles title at the 2019 Australian Open. Their route to the final was more challenging, with each of their four matches before being decided by a third-set tiebreak.
Mertens and Sabalenka claimed the tightly-contested first set that was 52 minutes long — compare that to the men’s final that took just over an hour. Both teams featured solid serves in the opening frame, with each getting only one break. The Belgian/Belarusian pair of Mertens and Sabalenka would take it 7-5 in the tiebreak.
The second set followed a similarly trajectory, with Mertens and Sabalenka getting the early break to go up 3-1 before Stosur and Zhang broke back. Mertens and Sabalenka would regain the lead by breaking at love to lead 4-2. The duo would not look back as they would claim the set 6-2 and thereby title when Zhang double faulted to end the match.
Sabalenka’s raw power at the baseline was a perfect compliment for Mertens’ deftness at the net, propelling them to their second title as a team. It was the perfect recipe to upset the Aussie Open-winning duo of Stosur and Zhang.
The win is Mertens’ eighth career doubles title and just Sabalenka’s second.
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