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Black, Huber Look to Conquer California

Cara Black and Liezel Huber look to continue the recent roll they're on at the BNP Paribas Open, an event they've never won.

Published March 11, 2009 12:00

Black, Huber Look to Conquer California
Liezel Huber, Cara Black
INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - Cara Black and Liezel Huber look to continue the recent roll they're on at the BNP Paribas Open. Surprisingly, Black and Huber, co-ranked No.1 in the world and the top seeds at the $4.5-million event, have had little success at this tournament, falling in the round of 16 the only time they played in it together in 2005.

Black and Huber, who have won 24 Sony Ericsson WTA Tour titles together, including four majors, failed to hoist the winners' trophies at their first four tournaments of 2009, but after winning Paris and Dubai, they are clearly the team to beat in California. Their first significant challenge could be the Chinese duo, Yan Zi and Zheng Jie, in the quarterfinals. They are unseeded but made it all the way to the finals at this tournament last year and are two-time major winners.

Black and Huber will also surely have their eyes on possible semifinal opponents Daniela Hantuchova and Ai Sugiyama. Seeded No.5 here, Hantuchova and Sugiyama eliminated them this year at the Australian Open in a third set tie-break and in Brisbane in a match tie-break. However, Hantuchova and Sugiyama could have an early challenge from 2008 Australian Open champs Alona and Kateryna Bonderenko in the second round. Another team of note in the top half of the draw is fourth-seeded Australian duo Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs, who have each won Indian Wells twice, albeit with other partners.

Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual are the favorites to come through the bottom half of the draw. The second-seeded Spanish duo won three titles last year, including Roland Garros, and also took the silver medal at the Olympics. They have an intriguing match-up in the first round with wildcard entrants Svetlana Kuznetsova and Amélie Mauresmo.

Another wildcard team in that section of the draw, Russians Maria Sharapova and Elena Vesnina, will surely have lots of eyes on them. Sharapova is making her return to the Tour after being out since August with a torn rotator cuff. Vesnina won Indian Wells last year with Dinara Safina. After Indian Wells, Sharapova is scheduled to make her singles comeback at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.

Other teams of note in the bottom half of the draw are third-seeded Lisa Raymond and Kveta Peschke and unseeded Nathalie Dechy and Mara Santangelo. Raymond is a six-time champion at Indian Wells. Dechy and Santangelo didn't drop a set en route to the title last week in Monterrey.

The doubles final is scheduled for Saturday, March 21. The winners will split $237,000.
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