Huber & Raymond Into SFs, Streak Still Alive
Published September 29, 2011 12:00
TOKYO, Japan - Americans Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond raced into the semifinals of the Toray Pan Pacific Open on Thursday morning, needing just 62 minutes to make it past Chan Yung-Jan and Julia Goerges, 63 62.
Huber and Raymond, the No.1 seeds at the Premier-level tournament, asserted their dominance early, winning the first five games of the match. Chan and Goerges picked it up for a short period, closing the gap to 5-3 before losing the set then moving out to a 2-0 lead in the second set, but Huber and Raymond went on another tear from there, winning six games in a row to close it.
It was a dream summer for Huber and Raymond, who not only won their first WTA title together in Toronto, but followed that up with their first Grand Slam title together at the US Open. The win in New York held special meaning for both - Huber returned to the No.1 ranking, and at age 38 Raymond became the "most experienced" woman to win a Grand Slam doubles title in the Open Era.
Next up for Huber and Raymond will be No.4 seeds Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko, who crushed Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears in just 55 minutes, 60 61. "Singles is of course my priority, but Maria and I have been playing so well together this season," Azarenka said. "We have a chance to qualify for the Championships and we're trying to push to make the spot. To make it there in both singles and doubles would be remarkable for me."
Huber and Raymond have split their two previous meetings with Azarenka and Kirilenko, both this year - they won in the quarterfinals of the French Open, 64 46 64, but lost in the final of Stanford, 61 63. They were supposed to meet again in the final of Toronto but Azarenka pulled out beforehand with a hand injury.
Squaring off in the other semi will be No.2 seeds Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta and No.3 seeds Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova. Dulko and Pennetta were devastating during a 61 61 victory over Irina-Camelia Begu and Anastasia Rodionova, needing just 43 minutes to dispatch the Romanian-Australian pairing. King and Shvedova had a tougher battle but prevailed over Natalie Grandin and Vladimira Uhlirova, 64 64. Grandin and Uhlirova were fresh off their first WTA doubles title as a team over in Seoul on the weekend.
"Vania and I hadn't played together since the US Open and our first match was difficult, so we're really happy to be in the semifinals," Shvedova said after the match. "We were a little bit tired after our first match but I had the day off yesterday and we focused well today. We're looking forward to the semifinals."
Dulko and Pennetta have split two career meetings with King and Shvedova, both last year - they lost to them in the quarterfinals of the US Open, 63 63, but got revenge in the semifinals of the WTA Championships, 64 64.