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Tennis: Hsieh, Peng first Asians to triumph at WTA Championships

China’s Peng Shuai (left) and Taiwan No. 1 Hsieh Su-wei claimed their fifth title of the year at the WTA Championships, which will be held in Singapore from 2014. Photo: Getty Images.

China’s Peng Shuai (left) and Taiwan No. 1 Hsieh Su-wei claimed their fifth doubles title of the year at the season-ending WTA Championships, which will be held in Singapore from 2014. Photo: Getty Images.

October 28, 2013: China’s Peng Shuai and Taiwan No. 1 Hsieh Su-wei became the first Asians to win a title at the season-ending TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships, with the tournament debutants lifting the doubles trophy in Turkey after beating Russians Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina 6-4 7-5.

 

Hsieh and Peng, ranked World No. 3 and No. 4 in doubles respectively, have now won all nine WTA finals they’ve competed in, with a first Wimbledon crown among an impressive five titles this year.

 

Makarova and Vesnina had beaten top seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci in the semi-finals, but the second-seeded Hsieh and Peng proved too strong in the final. The Wimbledon champions stormed to a 5-1 lead in the first set before they were pegged back to 5-4, but broke Vesnina to clinch the set.

 

The Russians came out swinging in the second set, going up 3-1 before Hsieh and Peng went on another run, reeling off six of the next eight games, again closing it out by breaking Vesnina.

 

“The most important thing was that Shuai was doing her job at the baseline and I was doing my job at the net,” said Hsieh, who now has 14 career titles to her name, while Peng has 12.

 

“I don’t think I can help a lot at the baseline so it was important that I was up at the net finishing the points. That was our game plan and it really worked.”

 

Hsieh and Peng won their first title in Bali in 2008, before adding three in 2009 (Sydney, Rome and Beijing) and five this year (Rome, Wimbledon, Cincinnati, Guangzhou and Istanbul).

 

Additionally, they are now 9-0 in WTA doubles finals as a team, while they’re only even when playing with other partners (Hsieh 5-5, Peng 3-3).

 

Hsieh and Peng weren’t just the first Asians to capture the WTA Championships doubles title. They were actually just the second and third Asian players to reach the doubles final at all, with Japan’s Ai Sugiyama breaking ground by reaching the final in 2003 and 2007.

 

The victory also means the pair could defend their title when the WTA Championships moves to Singapore next year, when they would be assured of strong support.

 

“Do we play together next year?” Peng jokingly asked her partner.

 

“It depends on if we fight or not in the next two months,” Hsieh joked back.

 

“We really enjoyed playing together this year,” Peng said. “We had a really good time together on the court. We fought sometimes, but it was still a lot of great memories, just the whole experience.”

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