Huber, Black Finish Year in Style
MADRID, Spain - Cara Black and Liezel Huber crowned a glorious year with the Sony Ericsson Championships title on Saturday afternoon, after they emerged victorious in a thrilling doubles final against Katarina Srebotnik and Ai Sugiyama.
Black and Huber have enjoyed a truly magnificent year on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour in 2007 and prior to this week had triumphed at a staggering eight events this season - including their second and third Grand Slam victories at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. However, it was Srebotnik and Sugiyama who played the more authoritative tennis in the opener and deservedly came out on top when the secured the sole break of serve in the final game of the set.
Coming into the championship match the two teams had met three times on Tour this year and while the Black/Huber partnership lead the head-to-head 2-1, each contest had gone the distance. A second set resurgence from the No.1 seeds, which saw them break serve twice in the opening three games, ensured this trend was continued and the final doubles contest of 2007 would be decided on a match tie-break.
After edging past Kveta Peschke and Rennae Stubbs 76(3) 46 106 in Saturday's semifinals this was the second time Black and Huber had been extended to a match tie-break in the Spanish capital and with such a prestigious title on the line it was an understandably tense affair. There was also added drama at 8-7 to Srebotnik and Sugiyama, when the Slovene star called on Hawkeye to question a Huber serve. The replay confirmed the ball was good and Black and Huber took advantage to reel off the next two points and close out an enthralling encounter, 57 63 108.
"I think it was great match today," Black said, "we played a much better quality of tennis than in the semifinals. We struggled in the first set a little bit but the same thing happened in our match against them at Wimbledon and we were able to come out and regroup in the second set and just stay calm and composed and I think that was the key in the end."
"If you look at the scores between us and them [Srebotnik and Sugiyama] it has always been close," Huber said. "In the tie-break we tried to go out there and be aggressive and act like we are the No.1 and put the pressure on them and somehow we just squeaked it out. I don't know if thats luck or what, but it pulled us through those tough moments."
The thrilling victory was a fitting ending to a spectacular year for Black and Huber and saw them lift the Sony Ericsson Championships trophy for the first time in their respective careers. The 69 wins the pair have enjoyed since the turn of the year have enabled both players to rise to the summit of the rankings and on Thursday they were unveiled as the year-ending joint world No.1s.