WTA250 Chennai Open: Dabrowski-Stefani enter women’s doubles final

Dabrowski and Stefani, playing their first tournament together in more than a year, defeated the Japanese-Thai duo of Moyuka Uchijima and Peangtarn Plipuech 6-3, 6-3 in 61 minutes on Centre Court at the SDAT Stadium in Nungambakkam.

Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada and Luisa Stefani of Brazil hug each other after winning their women’s doubles semifinal match in Chennai on Saturday.

Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada and Luisa Stefani of Brazil hug each other after winning their women’s doubles semifinal match in Chennai on Saturday. | Photo Credit: R Senthil Kumar

Dabrowski and Stefani, playing their first tournament together in more than a year, defeated the Japanese-Thai duo of Moyuka Uchijima and Peangtarn Plipuech 6-3, 6-3 in 61 minutes on Centre Court at the SDAT Stadium in Nungambakkam.

Top-seeded Canadian-Brazilian pair of Gabriela Dabrowski and Luisa Stefani cruised to the WTA250 Chennai Open final on Saturday.

Dabrowski and Stefani, playing their first tournament together in more than a year, defeated the Japanese-Thai duo of Moyuka Uchijima and Peangtarn Plipuech 6-3, 6-3 in 61 minutes on Centre Court at the SDAT Stadium in Nungambakkam.

It was Uchijima and Plipuech who made the first move as they broke Dabrowski in the opening game before the 21-year-old from Japan held to love and consolidated the break.

However, the top seeds quickly adjusted to the pace of the court, improved their first serve percentage and started finding the gaps for volleys. 

The 2021 US Open semifinalists reeled off five straight games to take a 5-2 lead and closed the first set in 28 minutes.

“We got off to a little bit of a slow start in the first two games. But after that, we regrouped on Luisa’s serve very quickly. The momentum shifted back in our favour and we finished the set very strongly, even though we had a small dip in the beginning,” said Dabrowski in the post-match press conference.

She added, “The court, visually, is very different to the outside courts. That does play a part in the beginning when you’re just trying to get used to seeing the ball. Also, the court we thought played a little bit slower than the outside courts. The bounce was a little bit higher. To find the timing on the strokes, it took a couple of games as well.”

In the opening game of the second set, Dabrowski and Stefani broke Uchijima at love despite a cross-court backhand return from the Brazilian at 30-0 looking well outside the doubles line. The lack of Hawkeye and no challenges allowed left the Asian pair frustrated.

There was a brief fightback from Uchijima and Plipuech as Plipuech hit a crunch backhand down the line winner on Dabrowski’s serve in the sixth game. The scoreline changed from 4-1 to 4-3, still in the favour of the top seeds.

Stefani drew three backhand errors from Uchijima before hitting an ace up the T to go 5-3 ahead.

The Japanese player, while serving to stay in the match, got broken at love with Stefani hitting a cross-court backhand volley winner at match point.

In Sunday’s final, Dabrowski and Stefani will face the Russian-Georgian duo of Anna Blinkova and Natela Dzalamidze.

Shot of the match

There was one shot by Stefani at deciding point in sixth game of the opening set which left the crowd in disbelief. From the right corner of the baseline, the 25-year-old hit a half backhand slice which went over 5’7” Plipuech standing closer to the net before the revolutions on the ball meant Uchijima’s crosscourt backhand return landed into the net.

When asked about that shot, Stefani said, “I practice a lot but, in the match, you never know where the ball is exactly going to come. So, you’ve got to be ready for anything. Sometimes, it has just got to be spontaneous.”

Dabrowski added, “She has great intuition on the court. Even at the last moment, I feel like she has really good shot selection. Even being out for a year has not changed that.”

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