For a while a cluster of teams have had a stranglehold in the top four spots in the Road To Singapore doubles leaderboard, but Cara Black and Sania Mirza have busted right through that, surging from sixth to third place after winning their first WTA doubles title of the year at the Portugal Open in Oeiras.
Ever since last fall, Black and Mirza have been one of the breakthrough teams on the doubles tour. They won their first two tournaments together - Premier-level triumphs in Tokyo and Beijing - and, after a few earlier-than-expected losses to start their 2014 season, they've come on strong again in their last three events, reaching the final of Indian Wells, semifinals of Miami and another final in Stuttgart.
"It's a good start for us on clay - the final last week in Stuttgart and a title this week," Black said after the final. "Hopefully we can keep going like this and stay consistent through the whole year."
They were then informed they'd be moving into third place in the year-long journey to Singapore.
"If you keep your consistency up then that kind of takes care of itself," Mirza said. "We're not really trying to focus just on the end result - it's unnecessary pressure. Of course the goal is to get there at the end of the year, but it's more important to just keep improving and playing our best."
Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci are still in the lead on the doubles leaderboard, with Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in second. Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears are in fourth, Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai are in fifth, Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik are in sixth, Alla Kudryavtseva and Anastasia Rodionova are in seventh and Klara Koukalova and Monica Niculescu eighth.
This year the doubles format for the BNP Paribas WTA Championships Singapore presented by SC Global is shifting from four teams to eight teams, and from round robin format to elimination rounds.