Photo: Mauricio Paiz

Playing in their first WTA 1000 doubles final, Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez and American Taylor Townsend came up just short in their title bid on Sunday afternoon at the Miami Open.

The pair fell 7-6(6), 6-2 to the second-seeded American duo of Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula in the championship match. The opening set between the two teams was close from start to finish and could have gone either way. They remained on serve until 5-5 when they exchanged breaks to force a tiebreak which ended up being just as tightly contested as the previous 12 games. Gauff and Pegula saved a set point at 5-6, the first of three consecutive points won to ultimately take an all-important lead.

The Americans carried that momentum into set two and broke in two straight service games to build an insurmountable 5-1 lead that helped them seal their second WTA doubles title of the 2023 season, their third WTA 1000 crown, and fifth overall as a team. Pegula and Gauff become the first all-American dup to win the Miami doubles trophy since Mary Joe Fernandez and Zina Garrison in 1991.

Despite the loss, it was a memorable tournament to build on going forward for Fernandez and Townsend. They knocked out several formidable teams en route to the final including Timea Babos/Kristina Mladenovic, Beatriz Haddad Maia/Giuliana Olmos, and Lyudmyla Kichenok/Jelena Ostapenko. This was Fernandez’s second WTA doubles final of the season and the second of her young career. She finished as the runner-up in Auckland at the year’s first event alongside Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Meanwhile, it was Townsend’s seventh final appearance of her career.

Fernandez and Townsend debuted as a team with a Round of 16 showing at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and will share the court once again this coming week in Charleston to kick off the clay court season. They’ll face the Polish duo of Katarzyna Kawa and Alicja Rosolska out of the gate. In singles, Fernandez will face Evgeniya Rodina in the opening round.