Madrid Doubles Action Kicks Off Saturday
MADRID, Spain - A fantastic year of doubles on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour will draw to a close this weekend at the Sony Ericsson Championships as the Top 4 teams in the world do battle for the prestigious season-ending title. The No.1 seeds at the $3-million event are Cara Black and Liezel Huber, although they are sure to face stiff competition from the three other high-class pairs, Ai Sugiyama and Katarina Srebotnik, Kveta Peschke and Rennae Stubbs and Chinese Taipei's Chan Yung-Jan and Chuang Chia-Jung.
Thursday saw the draw made for the two semifinals and it threw up two intriguing clashes. In the top half of the draw this year's most successful team, Black and Huber, who have already captured nine trophies this season, will take on the in-form Peschke and Stubbs.
"We were nervous before the draw," Huber said, "but to be honest we did the hard work in the weeks and months leading up to this tournament and now we are here we are just going to enjoy. Hopefully we can just stay relaxed and this will help us play some great tennis and we will look to end the year on a high."
"Our preparation leading up to the tournament has been so good," Black added. "Now we're just excited to go out there and play and look to play some great tennis. It's obviously going to be tough to win in Madrid as all the teams have had great seasons and are here on merit, but now we are just looking forward to getting out on court and competing."
However, Black and Huber will not have it all their own way as their semifinal foes, Peschke and Stubbs, come into the event having already collected two titles during the European indoor season and are hungry for more success. The Czech-Australian duo also came out on top in the team's only previous meeting, winning a tense semifinal on the grass of Eastbourne courtesy of a final-set tie-break.
"We're coming into the tournament with a lot of confidence," Stubbs emphasized. "We've already won titles in Stuttgart and Zürich which were on the same surface as here in Madrid so we are definitely coming here in confident mood. Both of us have really attacking games and so the indoor surfaces really suit our style of play and we can definitely cause some damage this week!"
The other final four match-up pits two teams who have never met before against one another. Chan and Chuang have been the surprise package of the 2007 season and arrive in the Spanish capital having won three titles since the turn of the year and finished runners-up at both the Australian and US Opens. Srebotnik and Sugiyama have also experienced their fair share of success, with a tournament win in Toronto being complemented by three runner-up finishes, including at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
"It's a great achievement for us to have made it to Madrid," Sugiyama said. "We have only played 11 events together and so it's very pleasing to reach such a prestigious event and it gives us confidence not only for this week, but also next season."
"Both of us like playing the indoor events," Srebotnik added, "as you don't have to worry about other factors like the weather and there are no excuses! We only started playing together in Spring so we are happy to make it to the Sony Ericsson Championships and we are going to enjoy ourselves on the weekend as it's a great tournament."