Spaniards Oust Williams Sisters
Published October 31, 2009 12:00
DOHA, Qatar - Cara Black and Liezel Huber literally survived the semifinal round of the Sony Ericsson Championships - Doha 2009 doubles event, beating Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs in a nail-biter, subsequently securing the year-end No.1 doubles ranking for the third straight year.
Black and Huber, the top seeds, lost the first set but were never behind from there, leading by a break for most of the second set and building an early 5-1 lead in the match tie-break, which they never really let go of. They would beat the unseeded Australian duo, 36 76(3) 108, to get within one match of a third straight doubles title at the Sony Ericsson Championships.
Huber got pegged by the opposing team during the match, not an uncommon sight in top flight doubles.
"It's pretty dangerous playing Rennae Stubbs if she doesn't like you. She wants to win!" Huber said. "But seriously, accidents happen out there. I think I hit a really bad shot and she got me. It happened to me before, that I got hit in the throat, and my partner was there to back me up. And I think it shows something of our partnership that my partner can step in and know when I really am in need. We're very blessed, very lucky, healthy."
Black and Huber won the season-ending title in 2007 and, for the first time as a team, shared the No.1 doubles ranking afterwards. They have been on top ever since, and by virtue of their semifinal win, they are guaranteed to hold the top doubles ranking together for the third straight year-end rankings.
In the second semifinal, No.2 seeds the Williams sisters faced Spanish duo Nuria Llagostera Vives and María José Martínez Sánchez and were ousted in a match tie-break, 26 64 108. After dropping the first set the Spaniards broke Venus Williams' serve in the opening game of the second set and held onto the break through the end of the second set; they trailed 6-3 in the match tie-break but gutted out some long points to claw back to 8-8. From there the Spaniards' teamship shone, as Llagostera Vives poached a backhand volley into the open court for 9-8 and Martínez Sánchez hit a forehand volley winner to seal the deal.
"I'm very happy because it was a difficult match today," Martínez Sánchez said. "Tomorrow we'll give everything and just go for it. This is the first year we've worked so hard and a win tomorrow would be a great ending to the season."
"The match went better than we expected today," Llagostera Vives said. "We've spent all year working towards this event and always believed we could win against the Williams sisters. We've played Black and Huber several times and always lost - but I believe things can change tomorrow."
Black and Huber are 6-0 head-to-head against Llagostera Vives and Martínez Sánchez, 2-0 in 2008 and 4-0 in 2009. The Spaniards have always pushed them though, winning a set in each of their last three encounters - at Wimbledon, Cincinnati and the US Open this past summer.