Unseeded Duos Celebrate First Titles of 2009

Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Vania King captured Brisbane, while Nathalie Dechy and Mara Santangelo won in Auckland.

Published January 11, 2009 12:00

Unseeded Duos Celebrate First Titles of 2009
Vania King, Anna-Lena Groenefeld

BRISBANE, Australia - Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Vania King picked up where they left off at the end of last season, combining to win the inaugural Brisbane International. In the final the German-American duo - who also won the Bell Challenge in Québec City at the end of the October - recovered from a slow start to beat Klaudia Jans and Alicja Rosolska in a match tie-break, 36 75 10-5.

"It was a tough match out there," said Groenefeld, who with Patty Schynder also won at Stuttgart and reached the final at Zürich during the indoor swing, while attempting to re-establish herself as a force in singles. "We were very happy to come back and be on top in the end. At 3-4 when our coach came out, he saw that we were staying back on their serve. So there was a change and I think it turned around the match in the end."

The unseeded pair, who received a walkover in the semis from Mervana Jugic-Salkic and Peng Shuai after the Chinese player withdrew with a low back injury, had with relative ease knocked out second seeds and reigning Australian Open champions Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko in the second round, after a challenging opener against Julie Coin and Melinda Czink.

"I think that always the beginning of the year is difficult because it's the first tournament, no one is really match prepared," observed King. "The first round we didn't play so well, but we got good match practice in. As the week went on we started playing better and better and I think we're both really happy. It's wonderful to win a tournament, but to come back and win a tournament is an even better feeling."

Poles Jans and Rosolska, regular partners for several years, were playing their fourth final on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, but remain winless. Their side of the draw opened up when top seeds Cara Black and Liezel Huber were upset in the second round by Daniela Hantuchova and Ai Sugiyama, whom they dispatched in the semis.

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - The doubles final of the ASB Classic saw Nathalie Dechy of France and Italy's Mara Santangelo emerge victorious from a tight three set encounter against Spaniards Nuria Llagostera Vives and Arantxa Parra Santonja, 46 76(3) 12-10.

The win marks Dechy's fifth career doubles title and Santangelo's seventh - and their second together after Rome in 2007. Dechy is a two-time US Open doubles champion, winning with Vera Zvonareva in 2006 and Dinara Safina in 2007; for her part Santangelo won at Roland Garros in 2007 with Alicia Molik of Australia.

They may have fallen at the last hurdle, but the unseeded Spanish finalists recorded impressive results during the week, including a first round upset of top seeds Jill Craybas and Marina Erakovic. They also beat No.4 seeds Chan Yung-Jan and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the semis.

The champions, who were also unseeded, worked their way through the field starting with a first round win over third-seeded Ekaterina Dzehalevich and Vladimira Uhlirova. They defeated Julie Ditty and Carly Gullickson - who had removed No.2 seeds Shahar Peer and Caroline Wozniacki - to reach the final.

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