TOKYO, Japan - When two great doubles players join forces for the first time, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't work - and sometimes it really works. That was the case for Cara Black and Sania Mirza, who won their very first tournament together at the Toray Pan Pacific Open on Saturday.
Facing Chan Hao-Ching and Liezel Huber, Black and Mirza dropped the first set but then rebounded by winning the second set at love in just 27 minutes, and then had to grind out a match tie-break, winning the last four points of the match from double match point down at 9-7 to close it out, 46 60 119.
"In the first set, especially from my side, we made a lot of unforced errors. We were trying to do too much at times when we didn't really need to," Black said. "In the second set we were a little more calm and clearer thinking, putting more balls back in the court and had a little bit of strategy going."
Was it a struggle for Black to be on the opposite side of the net from Huber, with whom she was co-World No.1 in doubles just a few years ago? "It's always a little difficult because you know each other so well, and your thinking gets complicated," Black said. "But I was saying to Sania earlier, I just have to calm down and concentrate on my game, and not think about what they're going to be thinking."
And what about winning such a massive tournament in their first time playing together as a team?
"We teamed up together knowing yes, we can be a very good team," Mirza said. "Obviously the first time you play you don't expect to win - you try, but you don't expect it - but we're happy we could come through and win such a big tournament, and winning such a tight match in the finals was great too."
Black and Mirza were asked about the beautiful Toray Pan Pacific Open trophy in their presser.
"It's beautiful," Black said. "I already have two at home. I'm very happy to put number three there."
"I think it's really pretty," Mirza commented. "It's nice to have different kinds of trophies. I really like this one in particular though - it shows Japan and the culture, so it's a really good one to have."
Black now has two WTA doubles titles this year, having won Auckland in the first week of the season with Anastasia Rodionova. And she now has 56 WTA doubles titles to her name, making her the standalone No.13 on the all-time list (Martina Navratilova leads that list with an unbelievable 177).