MIAMI, FL, USA — Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka are one win away from a perfect March on the doubles court.
The Indian Wells champions notched their ninth consecutive match victory in the semifinals of the Miami Open on Friday, squeaking past the wild card team of Victoria Azarenka and Ashleigh Barty, 7-6(6), 7-5, in an hour and 40 minutes of tense action.
Mertens chalked up their latest victory to their ever-increasing workload. “We’ve played, of course, a lot of doubles matches these last couple of weeks, so I think that really was the key for us,” said the Belgian. “To know what we’re doing, when to switch, and even to pump each other up when it was getting tighter.”
“Of course we were playing against two great players, Barty’s still in singles,” Mertens continued. “It was a really tough match.”
Mertens admitted that completing the ‘Sunshine Double’ of winning Indian Wells and Miami back-to-back would mean “a lot” to her and her Belarusian partner. “Singles or doubles, for me it doesn’t matter — a title is a title. Of course, if we have the opportunity, I really hope we take it.”
To take it, Mertens and Sabalenka will have to defeat reigning Australian Open champions Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai in the final. No.6 seeds Stosur and Zhang overcame the 8th-seeded Chan sisters, Hao-ching and Latisha, 6-7(6), 7-5, [10-5], in a tight semifinal battle that took nearly two hours on Friday night.