Doubles Legends: Ruano Pascual & Suárez
Published July 28, 2010 12:00
Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver were the most dominant doubles team on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour in the '80s, Gigi Fernandez and Natasha Zvereva had a stranglehold on the '90s and then while the Williams sisters were only playing doubles sporadically in the early 2000s, Virginia Ruano Pascual and Paola Suárez took advantage, capturing eight majors from 2001-2005, fourth-most for a duo in the Open Era.
Although the Spaniard Ruano Pascual and the Argentine Suárez, three years her senior, played together as far back as 1995, they did not pair up often until 1997 and did not win their first event until Hobart in 1998. They finally made their union an almost exclusive one in 2000 and it stayed that way through 2006.
Ruano Pascual and Suárez finally won their first major in 2001 at the French Open. The next year was the first of the best three years of their partnership, each of which resulted in them being named Tour Doubles Team of the Year. In 2002, they won seven titles, including two majors. In 2003, they won five titles, including one major and their only Tour Championships. In 2004, they won six titles, including three majors and their third straight US Open. They are one of seven teams in the Open Era to win at least three majors in the same year. They also dominated the doubles rankings during that time, with one or both of them occupying the top spot for most of the period from September 2002 until October 2005.
Ruano Pascual and Suárez slowed down a bit after 2004, though they did win Roland Garros for the fourth time in 2005, the last of their majors. The only team with more French Opens in the Open Era is Fernandez and Zvereva with five (Navratilova and Shriver also have four). They captured their 32nd and final title together at Seoul in 2006 and played a few more events after that before Suárez retired in 2007. Their career match record together ended up 315-96, good for a 76.6% winning percentage.
"We had some really nice moments and we'll always have good memories," Suárez said. "We had a great time on the court, laughing all the time and having fun. That was the key to our partnership. And we're friends as well. Virginia was important for my career and in my memories of tennis."
Ruano Pascual has continued to have doubles success without Suárez, most notably alongside Anabel Medina Garrigues, with whom she won the French Open in 2008 and 2009. She is now up to 43 Tour doubles titles to her name, one short of what Suárez finished with.