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Aoyama/Shibahara defeat Melichar-Martinez/Schuurs to stay undefeated at WTA Finals

GUADALAJARA, Mexico — No.2 seeds Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara mounted two sturdy comebacks to defeat No.4 Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Demi Schuurs, 6-4, 7-6(5) on Day 3 on the 2021 Akron WTA Finals Guadalajara. With the win, Aoyama and Shibahara transfer to 2-0 within the Tenochtitlan group and are on the verge of qualifying for the semifinals. 

Aoyama and Shibahara, who’re making their Finals debut, entered the match with a 2-1 document in opposition to Melichar-Martinez/Schuurs, with each of their wins coming this season. Every time the Japanese duo has crushed the American-Dutch workforce, they’ve gone on to win the title (Yarra Valley Basic and Eastbourne).

Within the opening spherical of group play, Aoyama and Shibahara earned a confidence-boosting straight-sets win in opposition to No.7 seeds Darija Jurak and Andreja Klepac. Melichar-Martinez and Schuurs additionally gained their opener, upsetting US Open champions Sam Stosur and Zhang Shuai. 

Melichar-Martinez and Schuurs jumped out to a fast 3-0 lead with aggressive play on the internet that put the No.2 seeds on their heels. However there was no panic for Aoyama and Shibahara, who broke Schuurs to get again on serve at 4-4 after which surged ahead.

After a maintain from Shibahara to go forward 5-4, the Japanese workforce earned its first set level after Melichar-Martinez double-faulted at 4-5, 40-30. They transformed off a powerful second-serve return from Shibahara in direction of Schuurs on the internet, which was punched effectively lengthy.

The second set started the identical as the primary with Melichar-Martinez and Schuurs as soon as once more pocketing an early break to guide 2-0. However the No.4 seeds couldn’t maintain on to their lead, as Aoyama and Shibahara leveled the set at 2-2 and the groups proceeded to trade service holds.

Aoyama and Shibahara would earn three match factors with Melichar-Martinez serving at 4-5, 15-40, however did not convert. They have been saved at bay on a key rally at 30-40 when Melichar-Martinez struck a pitch-perfect defensive lob that landed on the baseline and earned an error from Shibahara. 

After an trade of holds, whereby Melichar-Martinez and Schuurs saved two extra match factors for a operating complete of 5, the groups moved to the tiebreak. Again-to-back double-faults from Melichar-Martinez gave Aoyama and Shibahara a fast 3-0 lead, which Shibahara prolonged to 4-0 with a powerful poach off the return.

Melichar-Martinez would shut the hole to 3-4, however an ideal Shibahara lob winner earned the Japanese workforce two extra match factors at 6-3. Melichar-Martinez helped wipe away two with an ace, however Aoyama and Shibahara lastly transformed on their eighth match level to seal a 2-0 document within the Tenochtitlán group and a 3-0 document over the American-Dutch workforce in 2021. 

Aoyama and Shibahara will await the outcomes of the second doubles match of the day between No.5 seeds Sam Stosur and Zhang Shuai and No.7 seeds Darija Jurak and Andreja Klepac. The Japanese duo will advance with a Jurak-Klepac win or a three-set win by Stosur and Zhang.

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