Chinese win doubles; German, Zhuhai rake in dough

After six days of battle, Germany’s Julia Goerges clinched the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai title with a victory over second-seeded CoCo Vandeweghe of the United States. Duan Yingying of Tianjin and Han Xinyun of Hangzhou were crowned champions in the doubles.

Upon defeating world #12 Vandeweghe 7-5, 6-1 on Nov 5, the 29-year-old Goerges reached a career-high world ranking of #14 with 700 points. The trophy was presented by Guo Caiwu of the Standing Committee of the Zhuhai Municipal Party committee.

Goerges’s six-year quest for a new WTA singles title paid off as she scored consecutive victories. She won the Kremlin Cup final on Oct 24, her first WTA singles title of this year. So far, she has won four WTA Tour championships.

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Julia Goerges [Photo by Zhu Xi / Zhuhai Daily]

Her road to the final was smooth as she swept away Slovakia’s top-ranked Magdalena Rybarikova, top-seeded Kristina Mladenovic, and Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova — all in straight sets.

Goerges was excited to win the final match with her idol looking on — tennis legend Steffi Graf, who was also the tournament ambassador.

“I can’t imagine a better ending to this season; two titles in two weeks and this is the biggest one,” said Goerges in her speech on the court.

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Cup presentation to WTA Elite Trophy titlist Julia Goerges [Photo by Zhu Xi / Zhuhai Daily]

Graf was happy to see her countryman join previous Elite Trophy winners Petra Kvitova and Venus Williams. She presented Goerges with a bouquet and mascot sent to her by Liu Wenbin, director of the Tennis Sports Management Center of the General Administration of Sports of China.

Vandeweghe maintained a positive attitude and is looking forward to fulfilling more goals from a new starting point — a ranking in the world’s top 10.

The runner-up award was presented to Vandeweghe by Ya Landong, chair of the board of Hengqin Life Insurance, the title sponsor of this year’s tournament. Wang Lingping, director of the Zhuhai Culture, Sports & Tourism Bureau and Chen Yu, vice president of Zhuhai Huafa Modern Service Investment Holdings, also honored her with gifts.

Duan Yingying and Han Xinyun defeated Zhang Shuai and Lu Jingjing 6-2, 6-1 in straight sets. Their first WTA tournament team championship demonstrated their tacit understanding not only of the game but of each other.

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Duan Yingying and Han Xinyun [Photo by Zhu Xi/Zhuhai Daily & Organizing committee]

Vice-mayor Sun Hengyi and Yang Chuan, director of the Hengqin New Area Administrative Committee presented the first and second place awards in doubles play.

China’s #1 Peng Shuai, the wildcard holder, missed the semi-finals, only finishing second in her group with one win and one defeat.

Tens of thousands of tennis fans in Europe, the Asia-Pacific, North and South America, Africa, and the Middle East captured highlights of the third edition of the elite year-end women’s tennis event. All 22 Hengqin International Tennis Center battles were televised from Oct 31 to Nov 5.

All seats at the center court were nearly occupied on the final day. More tennis aficionados from around the city watched the event in situ thanks to reasonably priced tickets. Live audiences also enjoyed the accompanying Zhuhai Food Festival and creative bubbles activities.

Graf commented on the dramatic changes in Zhuhai. “I had a great visit here last year, with a lot of memorable moments out on the bridge …” she said atop the 330 m Zhuhai Tower on Nov 4, the tallest building in Zhuhai and Macao.

That more and more people being keen on tennis also impressed Graf. The achievement was credited by WTA CEO Steve Simon to her participation in clinics and promotional activities introducing tennis to children and fans in Zhuhai, which has significantly enhanced the growing tennis culture in China.

Simon praised the Zhuhai effort. The tournament is where things keep improving through innovations, and more Chinese elite tennis players can take a step higher. The endeavors made to extend the value of the tournament’s events and to develop a popular audience paid off, which lay a solid foundation for a mature sports event, he said.

The Chinese Tennis Association and Zhuhai government have sponsored the tournament since it was initiated in 2015. The stakes this year were $70,000 higher in prize money at $2.28 million for the top 20 ranked players in singles and doubles.

The first event in 2015 created a consumer value of 465 million yuan ($70 million). Moreover, the overall economic value of the tournament reached 560 million yuan ($84.5 million) in the second year, a record expected to be broken this year.

State-owned Huafa Group organized the event with its subsidiary, Huafa Sports, responsible for the presentation.