Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina produced a brilliant performance on Sunday afternoon to defeat Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova and lift the doubles title at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
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A high-quality encounter was settled by a few moments of inspiration as the Russian pair closed out a 7-6(5), 6-3 victory after an hour and 38 minutes.
"It was such a great match. It was really a pleasure to play against Bethanie and Lucie and to be honest we really enjoyed playing it," Vesnina told on-court interviewer Andrew Krasny afterwards. "We weren't sure until the very end that we were going to win it. It was a really, really close match."
Makarova and Vesnina have twice come up short at the year-end showpiece and more disappointment looked on the cards when they failed to serve out the opening set at 5-3. However, the ensuing tie-break - and ultimately the match - turned on a brilliant lob from Vesnina, leaving her partner with the simplest of winners. Two points later, Vesnina came up trumps again, her return finding the baseline to clinch the set.
They continued to make most of the running in the second, only to be denied by some wonderfully instinctive net play. At 4-3 the breakthrough finally came, Mattek-Sands sending a half-volley floating wide to surrender serve. There was still time for some late jitters, the previously immaculate Makarova firing long before swinging a serve out wide to close out victory at the fourth time of asking.
"It was a tough match and it was a little bit up and down. It was very important not to have a third set, because the deciding tie-break is a little bit tricky," Makarova added. "Luckily we could stay solid and focused."
The triumph comes on the back of a glorious summer in which the pair brought back Olympic gold from Rio. "This year for us has been amazing. The year-end Finals in Singapore is something we've been dreaming to win, so this is like a dream come true."
For Mattek-Sands and Safarova, the result brings to an end an 18-match unbeaten run. It also denies Mattek-Sands the chance to overhaul Sania Mirza at the top of the rankings and finish as 2016 WTA Year-End No.1 Ranking, presented by Dubai Duty Free.