DUBAI, UAE - Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond continued to dominate the doubles circuit this past week by winning at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, their seventh WTA title together and third in as many weeks.
Huber and Raymond came into Dubai on a two-tournament winning streak, taking in Premier-level titles at Paris and Doha, and after escaping a first round scare in Dubai - they were two games from falling to Julia Goerges and Zheng Jie, coming from 63 44 down to win, 36 64 105 - they didn't lose another set.
In the final, No.1 seeds Huber and Raymond put together a masterful display, needing just 67 minutes to beat No.2 seeds Sania Mirza and Elena Vesnina, 62 61 - their first win in four tries against the Indian-Russian pairing.
"The first time we played them was the very first match we played together in Charleston," Huber said. "Lisa had an ankle injury and shouldn't have played that tournament. But regardless, they were a tough team. We played them again at the French. We didn't play a good match and lost in three sets. Then we lost to them at the Australian Open, and we played very hesitant.
"There wasn't anything in those three times that was the same as today. Today was on hardcourt, a faster surface, and short format. If they were going to take it from us today, then take it from us. But it was a new day out here in Dubai, and fortunately we stuck to our game plan and it panned out in the end."
"We had our game plan and took a couple things away from them. It worked well and we stayed on 'em," Raymond said. "Liezel served out a great game in the end with an ace. It feels good to beat them that decisively."
Huber was asked to elaborate on the short format, more particularly the match tie-break - after losing their first two match tie-breaks together, Huber and Raymond have prevailed in 10 of their last 11. "We have our formula and it's working for us. I'm not going to say what it is, but we like the tie-break. We feel it's in our favor when it gets to the tie-break. We do lose some, but when we lose it's by a point or two points, and well done to the other team."
While Huber now has two Paris titles and five Dubai titles, Raymond had never won those two - nor Doha. "Lisa said these three tournaments we've won, she's never actually won those," Huber added about her trusty partner. "So come next year this time, we've been in this situation before and know what it's like."
There was another milestone for Raymond - it was her 77th WTA doubles title, passing Jana Novotna for sixth Open Era, trailing only Martina Navratilova, Rosie Casals, Pam Shriver, Billie Jean King and Natasha Zvereva.
What's next for the veteran American duo?
"Home," Raymond said.
"Home," Huber added. "I'm very happy to go home. We're going to Indian Wells next. We'll get there a few days before, trying to be professional and get there and get used to it. It hasn't been a very successful tournament for me. Hopefully Lisa can help me get through those obstacles. She says it's going to be a successful tournament and I'm going to like it. It's a beautiful place."
Huber has never been beyond the quarterfinals of Indian Wells with any partner; Raymond has won it six times before with three different partners.