Melichar-Martinez reaches semifinals
at WTA Finals in Guadalajara
Victoria Chiesa | November 14, 2021
Top-ranked American doubles player Nicole Melichar-Martinez will play in the semifinals at the year-end Akron WTA Finals in Guadalajara, Mexico after she and partner Demi Schuurs finished second in the Tenochtitlán Group.
Fourth-seeded Melichar-Martinez and Schuurs went 2-1 in round-robin play and sealed their spot in the knockout rounds with a 6-4, 3-6, 10-2 win over No. 7 seeds Darija Jurak of Croatia and Andreja Klepac of Slovenia on Sunday night—a winner-take-all affair that decided the group’s second semifinal berth. After losing the opening point of the deciding match tiebreak, the pair dominated in victory, winning 10 of the next 11 points. Previously, the pair opened up a 5-1 lead in the first set, but needed seven set points to win it against a determined effort from Jurak and Klepac.ADVERTISEMENT
"Our opponents played a great season and they have a lot of experience, and that's what we saw today as well," Schuurs said on-court in victory. "In the first set, when we were 5-1 up, they started hitting and they were loose. It wasn't easy. In the second set, they played very well and we missed some chances, and then the super tiebreak is a coin toss.
"We went to the toilet, we spoke with each other, and we just said, 'Let it go. Just go for it. These are the only points we have to play well now, and we just have to win two more than our opponents.'"
Earlier in the tournament, Melichar-Martinez and Schuurs defeated US Open champions Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai, 6-2, 6-2, on Wednesday, before being beaten by No. 2 seeds Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan, the group winners, 6-4, 7-6(5), on Friday.
Melichar-Martinez, ranked world No. 13, is making her second career appearance at the season-ending WTA Finals this week, having last qualified in 2018. That year, she and partner Kveta Peschke were beaten in the quarterfinals in a true knockout format.
The other American in the field, Desirae Krawczyk, will look to join Melichar-Martinez in the semifinals when she and partner Alexa Guarachi of Chile take the court on Monday in the final match out of the El Tajín Group. With a 1-1 record, the No. 6 seeds will need to knock off top seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, who’ve already sealed a spot in the semifinals, and will also need Giuliana Olmos and Sharon Fichman to beat Hsieh Su-wei and Elise Mertens in the other match.
The four semifinalists will have the opportunity to play for the Martina Navratilova trophy, which was named for the legendary champion in 2014.
"Martina has been an inspiration to me forever. I talk with her every day in the players' lounge, and it's an honor to play a tournament where the trophy is named after her," Melichar-Martinez said. "We're going to take it one match at a time, and we have to win four more sets."