Grandin & Uhlirova's Momentum Swing
Published August 25, 2011 12:00
NEW HAVEN, CT, USA - Different teams click at different times, and for one of the WTA's most seasoned doubles teams that time seems to be now. Natalie Grandin and Vladimira Uhlirova had the best week of their partnership last week in Cincinnati and are looking to build on that as they shoot for the Top 20.
Prior to this year, both Grandin and Uhlirova had individually strong doubles résumés. Grandin, from South Africa, had been to six WTA finals with five different partners; Uhlirova, from the Czech Republic, had won four WTA titles and was an eight-time finalist. Together, they are going even higher in 2011.
Playing almost exclusively this year - the New Haven Open at Yale is their 24th WTA tournament together - they have reached four finals: Barcelona, Strasbourg, Budapest and by far their biggest one at the Premier Mandatory event in Cincy last week, where they beat reigning French Open champs Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka and reigning Wimbledon champs Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik along the way, eventually falling to reigning US Open champs Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova.
In their only non-WTA event together - at a $100,000 ITF Circuit stop in Nassau, the Bahamas, the highest level there is on the ITF Circuit - they won the title.
Grandin, who turned 30 this year but is only getting better - this week she set a new career-high doubles ranking of No.24 - talked about how they have clicked. "We understand each other. We're very different too - I probably hit with more topspin, while she hits the ball flatter and has a really good instinct for doubles."
Uhlirova, who turned 33 this year, also seems to be going up and up - she set her career-high of No.18 back in 2007 but has shot back up to No.25 this week. "We've had some high quality wins over great teams this year. We came up a bit short in the final last week, but overall it was a successful week. We proved to ourselves we can play that well. We really believe in ourselves now."
Uhlirova has also drawn inspiration from non-believers, and is clearly proving them wrong. "Some people in my home country a couple of years ago said I didn't have a future," the Czech commented. "I have a future."
The Grandin/Uhlirova duo nearly went out first round this week, but that belief may have saved them - down double match point at 9-7 in the match tie-break against Kristina Barrois and Klara Zakopalova, they won five of the next six points to move into the quarterfinals of New Haven, 67(2) 62 1210.
"We kept positive until the end and believd we could do it," Grandin said after the marathon match. "We stuck together and scrambled out a win."
Next up is a rematch with Peschke and Srebotnik, who are the No.1 team in the world, also co-No.1s on the individual doubles rankings. Last week Grandin and Uhlirova were on fire and scored a 61 64 victory over them - can they repeat?
"That's tennis - you might play the same teams again if you keep winning your rounds!" Grandin said. "Last week's win gives us confidence. We know we can beat them. But we need to take it point by point, and match by match."