Leaders Of The Pack

Four teams have pulled away from the rest in the race to qualify for the Sony Ericson Championships.

Published September 25, 2009 02:28

Leaders Of The Pack
Liezel Huber, Cara Black

After this week, there will be six events left before the season-ending Sony Ericson Championships - Doha 2009, and four teams have distanced themselves from the pack in the race to qualify for the four spots available.

Despite the fact that they did not win a Grand Slam this year, Cara Black and Liezel Huber lead the race by a significant amount and were the first team to qualify for Doha. That can be attributed to their remarkable consistency, as they have five Sony Ericsson WTA Tour titles in 2009 - at Paris [Indoors], Dubai, Madrid, Birmingham and Cincinnati. They have also had a runner-up showing at the US Open and semifinal appearances at Sydney, Roland Garros, Eastbourne, Wimbledon and Toronto. Black and Huber, co-ranked No.1 in the world, won the Tour Championships in 2007 and 2008, with Black having played in the event every year since 2000.

The Williams sisters are in second place, and even though they have only played in five tournaments this year, they have won four of them - the Australian Open, Wimbledon, Stanford and the US Open. The three Grand Slams they have picked up this year puts their career total at 10. They should have a chance to fill one of the few holes on their résumé, as they have never previously played in the season-ending doubles event.

In third place are Nuria Llagostera Vives and María José Martínez Sánchez, who lead the Tour this year with six titles - in Bogotá, Acapulco, Barcelona, Palermo, Toronto and New Haven. They also have runner-up showings in Bastad and Cincinnati and semifinal appearances in Sydney, Indian Wells and Rome. However, they have still yet to go beyond the quarters of a major in their careers together.

Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs have a strong hold on the fourth spot, buoyed by runner-up showings at Eastbourne, Wimbledon and Toronto and semifinal appearances at Dubai, Madrid and the US Open. Stosur won the Tour Championships in 2005 and 2006 alongside Lisa Raymond; Stubbs has played in it an incredible 13 times, winning it in 2001 with Raymond.

Ironically enough, the one team to win a Grand Slam this year besides the Williams sisters, French Open champions Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual, would not make the Doha field if the event were held today, as they currently sit in fifth place. In addition to taking the title at Roland Garros, the Spaniards also were runners-up at Marbella and semifinalists at Wimbledon. They do still have a chance to collect a lot of points and make the field, as two of the remaining events are Premier-level - Tokyo and Beijing. Also with a legitimate shot are sixth place Daniela Hantuchova and Ai Sugiyama, who were runners-up at the Australian Open and Rome and semifinalists at Brisbane and Toronto. Still mathematically alive are Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai, Kveta Peschke and Raymond and Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Nadia Petrova - who handed the Williams sisters their only loss of 2009 at the French Open.

The doubles competition at the Sony Ericsson Championships - Doha 2009 - will be held October 31-November 1.

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