ISTANBUL, Turkey - Though they don't come into the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul 2012 in their best form, Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond have had so much success at the season finale in the past that a title defense would surprise no one.
Huber will be playing the event for the sixth time, having been victorious in 2007 and 2008 with Cara Black and last year with Raymond. Raymond will be making her 12th appearance at this tournament, and in addition to her triumph with Huber, she came out on top in 2001 with Rennae Stubbs, and 2005 and 2006 with Samantha Stosur.
Huber and Raymond captured five titles this season, but four of them came in the season's first three and a half months. They are 2-1 all-time against their Istanbul semifinal opponents Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, including a loss in this year's Olympic semifinals and a victory a few weeks later in the New Haven final.
Hlavackova and Hradecka enter the tournament having reached six straight finals, winning two of them to give them four titles this year. On top of that, both of them reached career-highs on this week's doubles rankings - No.3 for Hlavackova and No.4 for Hradecka.
Saturday's other semifinal will see top seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci take on Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova. Errani and Vinci have had a dream season featuring a WTA-best eight titles, two of them majors. Kirilenko and Petrova have mustered just one title in Miami, but come into this event with the confidence of having won a winner-take-all match for the last Istanbul berth against Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears in last week's Moscow semifinals. Also, Petrova is the only player in the field other than Huber and Raymond with a WTA Championships title - having won in 2004 alongside Meghann Shaughnessy.
Errani and Vinci have dominated their series with Kirilenko and Petrova, winning four of five meetings. However, the Russians may encounter a weary Errani, who is also competing in singles in Istanbul. No one has won the season finale in doubles while also participating in singles since Elena Dementieva in 2002.