A Jump For Joy: Hsieh And Mertens Know What It Takes To Win

Hsieh Su-Wei and Elise Mertens (photo: WTA video)

INDIAN WELLS/WASHINGTON, October 17, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Hsieh Su-Wei of Taiwan and Elise Mertens of Belgium have teamed together for just eight tournaments. Their partnership grew out of two others – Hsieh and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic, and Mertens with Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus. Both Hsieh and Mertens are former World No. 1 in doubles and both won majors together with their former partners. Simply, they know what it takes to win and, just as importantly, how to make it happen.

After Strycova semi-retired to start a family and Sabalenka decided to primarily concentrate on singles, an opportunity for Hsieh, 35, and Mertens, 25, to partner together on the doubles court arose. They’ve seized on their chance to excel.

Earlier this season, Hsieh (currently ranked World No. 4) and Mertens (World No. 3) won the Wimbledon Championships doubles title. On Saturday, they added the BNP Paribas Open title to their trophy stash. Hsieh and Mertens defeated Veronika Kudermetova of Russia and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, both accomplished singles players who were playing together for the third time, 7-6 (1), 6-3, in an hour and 34 minutes on Stadium 1 at the Indian Wells Tennis Center.

Hsieh and Mertens won 60 percent (41 of 68) of their service points and 55 percent (33 of 60) of their returns points. They converted five of 10 break-point opportunities and outpointed their opponents 74-54.

“It’s been a really long time, I’m happy to be back here in Tennis Paradise,” Mertens said during the trophy presentation, noting that it had been two-and-a-half years since the last BNP Paribas Open took place. “My partner, Su-Wei, is a one-of-a-kind. I’m happy we’ve qualified for the [Akron WTA] Finals. Hopefully, we’ll be back [here] for many years.”

Hsieh related how Mertens was the first person she asked earlier in the season to play doubles with her. “Please, say yes. Please!” she said in an animated manner, which drew laughter from the crowd. “You know, how like you propose to someone to marry you?” Hsieh made the heart sign with her hands and shared a hug with Mertens. It was all spontaneous but it was very much in tune with Hsieh’s outgoing – and funny – personality. Earlier this week, Hsieh surprised everyone when, after winning her semifinals match, she did an on-court interview donning a green-felted dragon hat that garnered a lot of laughs from fans and brought attention on social media.

Meanwhile, Mertens is no stranger to success at Indian Wells as she and Sabalenka won the 2019 doubles title, the last year the tournament was held before being cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Hsieh is now a three-time champion in the southern California palm desert – and she’s done it with a different partner each time. First, with Peng Shuai of China in 2014, then with Strycova in 2018. Now, she’s won with Mertens – and it was her 30th career WTA doubles title. Mertens has now won 14 WTA doubles titles.

“It’s really fun to play with different partners,” Hsieh said in press. “I collect a lot of friends.”