A point from defeat twice, Hsieh Su-wei and Elise Mertens rallied to win the Wimbledon doubles title on Saturday afternoon in thrilling fashion.
From 6-3, 5-3 down, the No.3 seeds came all the way back in a 3-6, 7-5, 9-7 victory over unseeded Russians Veronika Kudermetova and Elena Vesnina inside Centre Court, giving Hsieh her third title at the All-England Club and Mertens a third Grand Slam title overall.
"It was such a tough match. They had match points, I think a couple, so we just kept going. We said to each other, 'Just keep going,'" Mertens said in the pair's post-match press conference.
"We never gave up. That's the fighting spirit we had today that maybe made with the difference. Of course, there were nerves, but still we managed it well at the end. She's defending champion, champion again. It's unbelievable."
The Belgian previously won the Australian Open in February with Aryna Sabalenka and now has just a Roland Garros title missing from her boxed set, while Hsieh won Wimbledon in 2013 with Peng Shuai and 2019 with Barbora Strycova.
On winning the title with a third different partner, Hsieh added: "It's always not easy to play in the final, and the opponents will fight super hard. We all know it's the last match so we will fight until the last point definitely.
"All the partners, they are amazing to help because sometime I get on the court at the beginning, and I [do] not start very well. Really good job to help, so it helps a lot."
Winning from match points down makes the even sweeter for Hsieh and Mertens as a pair: in four of their five previous tournaments together since partnering officially in May, they held match points in eventual defeats.
"It was definitely disappointing that we had some matches that we didn't finish, couldn't finish some chances," Mertens said. "But I think the best thing to do is to learn from it. If you keep being negative about it, you're not going to go any further, you're not going to go forward, not going to grow as a team.
"It was very important for us to communicate well, to get the energy. Like today, I mean, the others had match point. They didn't finish it. Now we won. That's tennis. But you just keep going."
The victory also assures Mertens of a return to the doubles world No.1 ranking. She first held the top spot for one week this May, and secured her return just by reaching the final.
Kudermetova and Vesnina had their own dramatic run to the championship match while unseeded, saving seven match points combined in their quarterfinal and semifinal victories over top seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova and Caroline Dolehide and Storm Sanders, respectively.
The Russians served for the match at 6-3, 5-4, and held a 40-15 lead on serve before dropping the next four points, and four games in all. In a dramatic final set that lasted over an hour, Hsieh and Mertens secured the first break - serving for the title first at 5-3 - before Kudermetova and Vesnina earned themselves a second chance to serve for the title at 7-6.
On the second opportunity, though, they never reached match point - leveling at deuce from 15-40 before dropping serve - and the No.3 seeds sealed the win by winning 10 of the last 11 points.
11 July 2021