Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua have maintained their excellent form of 2013 by progressing to Saturday’s final of the ladies’ doubles event. The No.12 seeds will now face Su-Wei Hsieh and Peng Shuai, the Taiwanese-Chinese pairing who beat unseeded duo Shuko Aoyama and Chanelle Scheepers in straight sets in the second semi-final on No.1 Court on Friday.
The all-Australian team of Barty and Dellacqua ousted No.7 seeds Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke 7-6(6), 6-2, using their artful touch from both the baseline and at the net to flummox their more experienced opponents.
In just their fourth tournament together in 2013, Barty and Dellacqua have already reached the Australian Open final and currently own a nine-match winning streak after claiming the WTA grass-court title in Birmingham three weeks ago.
What’s been the secret to their instant success? “I just think we have so much trust and belief in each other. Whatever the situation is, we find a way,” Dellacqua said. “Especially at the Grand Slams that's what it comes to, it comes down to the best team that can get through – you’ve seen it with the Bryans, and the [other] best teams in the world, [they] work together.
“I think that’s what we do well and we don’t complicate things – we just go out there and do our job, and we do what we know we do well.”
The approach proved valuable in the opening set, when, after skipping ahead 4-1, the Australians watched as Groenefeld and Peschke reeled in their lead. The German-Czech combo won four straight games and even had a set point on Dellacqua’s serve in the ensuing tie-break.
Yet the No.12 seeds held firm, and a couple of points later they had gained their own set point. Barty ensured they converted it, rifling a backhand straight at Groenefeld which whizzed past the German’s head for a winner.
“Even the games that we lost, even my serve to get broken at four-all, they played a great game. And sometimes you’ve just got to accept that they’ll hit a few good returns or whatever it may be,” Barty reflected. “We were just ready and prepared to work hard in the next game … eventually that hard work will pay off.”
It certainly did. Groenefeld and Peschke visibly wilted after dropping that tense first set, especially the German, who erred repeatedly on serve and at net. The Australians, meanwhile, grew in confidence – Barty’s forcing groundstrokes won several points as did Dellacqua’s well-timed and well-disguised lobs.
They scored two breaks on the way to a 5-2 lead, and when Dellacqua served for the match she held firm, benefitting from two Peschke errors on the final two points to claim victory.
“To be in another [major] final is awesome and we’ll learn from the Australian Open one and take it into tomorrow and have a shot at another Grand Slam title,” Dellacqua added.
Hsieh and Peng came through an entertaining and atmospheric match to win 6-4, 6-3 over their Japanese-South African opponents. They looked to be heading for a comfortable victory as they broke early to move 2-0 ahead, only for Scheepers to find the range on her heavy forehand and belt two winners to help her team break back for 2-1.
With Peng proving solid around the net, she and Hsieh scored broke again for 5-3, but still couldn’t shake their feisty opponents – serving for the set, they were broken to love, a blow sealed when Aoyama poached to knock off a winning volley.
But some crafty play – a Hsieh sliced backhand, a Peng lob – threw their opponents, and the broke immediately to seal the opening set. When they scored a break deep in the second, again to lead 5-3, they made no mistake this time. Peng lobbed a winner after a fabulous rally to put her team a couple of points from victory, which they eventually clinched when Scheepers fired a forehand long.
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