Huber & Raymond Win Year-Ending Honors
Published October 30, 2011 12:00
ISTANBUL, Turkey - When two of the WTA's most accomplished veterans finally joined forces for the first time in April, everybody knew big things were in the wings. Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond wrapped up a breakthrough year at the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships, capturing their fourth title in their last six events with a 64 64 win over Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik.
Both former No.1s and multiple Grand Slam champions, Huber and Raymond came together for the first time at Charleston in April. It took some time for their talents to truly shine through - they went title-less in their first 11 tournaments together - but since August they have been nearly unbeatable, losing in the quarterfinals of Cincinnati and the semifinals of Beijing but winning Toronto, the US Open, Tokyo and now the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships.
Seeded No.2 in Istanbul, they rallied from a set down and 3-6 in the match tie-break to beat Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta in the semifinals, 46 63 107, then recorded a 64 64 win over No.1 seeds Peschke and Srebotnik in the final, losing three straight games from 64 31 but regrouping, winning three straight games of their own from 64 34 to finish it. They missed their first two match points but Huber closed it out with a backhand volley at Srebotnik's body.
"At the end of the day we knew the winner would be the more aggressive team," Raymond said. "We had to take it to the net. They're too good a team for us to wait for them to take charge. We just stuck together and stuck to it."
Huber and Raymond lost handily in their only previous meeting with Peschke and Srebotnik, a 59-minute, 63 60 rout in the final of Eastbourne in June.
"The first part of the season is long forgotten," Huber said afterwards. "We've worked very hard and have learned a lot about our own character. We're enjoying the hard work a lot. This is a fantastic moment for us right now."
Huber now has three year-end titles (winning twice with Cara Black in 2007 and 2008) and Raymond now has four (winning once with Rennae Stubbs in 2001 and twice with Sam Stosur in 2005 and 2006). Raymond is the second player to win this title with three different partners (Lindsay Davenport won with Mary Joe Fernandez in 1996, Jana Novotna in 1997 and Natasha Zvereva in 1998).
Huber now has 48 WTA doubles titles to her name, Raymond now has 74.
What's next for the all-American, all-veteran, all-star team? "We're going to take some much-needed time off then get ready for Australia," Raymond said. "Every tournament we play we want to win, so Sydney, that's our next goal."
Peschke and Srebotnik were both seeking their first year-end titles. They were runners-up last year too, to Dulko and Pennetta. They reached this year's final with a straight set victory over Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova.
"We had a wonderful, wonderful week," Peschke said. "I really do appreciate playing with Kata, a great friend and a wonderful tennis player on my side."
"It was an unbelievable week," Srebotnik said. "The fans are incredible. I want to thank them for supporting doubles so much. It's a pleasure to play here."