CANCUN, Mexico -- Laura Siegemund and Vera Zvonareva were in Cancun for a good time. They left with something to remember after winning the doubles title at the GNP Seguros WTA Finals.
The story writes itself. Zvonareva's first foray at the WTA Finals came 18 years ago, when she qualified for the doubles tournament with Elena Likhovtseva. Now 39, she nearly hung up her racquets last year after an Achilles injury.
But after a season-ending push that required a title run in Nanchang to seal their spot in Cancun, the former World No.2 said this trophy will go down as one of her most meaningful.
"This year was probably the first year in my career where I really focused on doubles," Zvonareva said. "Actually going all the way, qualifying here first, and then winning the whole event, it's very special. I won a couple of Grand Slam titles in the past and a couple of big tournaments as well, but this is a special event.
"I don't think I'm realizing it at the moment, but when I get the chance to look back at my whole career and you like you can pinpoint the results that you have in your mind, this will be one of them. It's one of the biggest achievements in my career."
Siegemund came into this season treating it as a transition year to doubles. An accomplished singles player, the German had seen her ranking plummet after injury. At 35, the writing was on the wall. It was going to be an uphill battle to remain a viable singles player.
"So my big goal was to become Top 10 In doubles, not necessarily this year, just in general in my career," Siegemund said. "That was one I ticked off this year, so I was really happy about that. Then I did break back into the Top 100 in singles, which is an amazing achievement for me. And it was always also for my career a huge goal to make it to the WTA Finals.
"Now we are here and we won the whole thing, which was really not on the list. We were taking it easy and enjoying. I never thought we would come home with the trophy. It's just a big cherry on the cake."
Even though they were one of the last teams to qualify, the pressure to win through the end of the season was precisely what made them the perfect foils in Cancun. While the higher-seeded teams qualified earlier and could coast through the end of the year, Siegemund and Zvonareva were battle-tested. Once they made the US Open final to put themselves on the qualifying bubble, the duo played under pressure through the Asian swing.
"After the Nanchang final, I thought this is exactly the situations we're going to be in repetitively, especially with this No-Ad scoring, where you just like every two minutes you play a big point against the good teams," Siegemund said. "You have zero margin, and I thought that's actually good practice."
Zvonareva agreed. Their ability to adapt and adjust throughout the week in Cancun was the key to their win.
"Every day, different outcomes and different situations," Zvonareva said. "We had to find our game and say, 'OK, that's how it's going today. What can we do about it? This is how it's going on another day. What can we do about it?'
"We created even more of this team spirit, solving the problems on the court. We didn't need to play our best tennis to win matches and that's something that makes good players great."
What it means for next year is still anyone's guess. Both players know how fleeting health and results can be. For now, it's just about soaking in the moment.
"I take it one week at a time," Zvonareva said. "I don't know what's going to happen. I've had a lot of injuries. After last year, after Miami, I had to stop for quite a long time as well. You never know what's going to happen.
"So, honestly, I don't know. One week at a time and that's it. But I'm really happy to be here today and have this trophy."