Lisa Raymond: Cincinnati 2010
Kirilenko & Azarenka Seal Cincy Deal [WTAtour.com]
CINCINNATI, OH, USA - Two of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour's brightest young stars paired up in doubles for just the third time this week and went straight to the top: Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko won a nail-biting final to take the Western & Southern Financial Group Women's Open.
Azarenka and Kirilenko didn't drop a set en route to Sunday's final, including demolition jobs of the two seeded teams they had to face, 60 62 over No.3 seeds Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik and 62 61 over No.2 seeds Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta, which was held the night before.
Things were much tougher against No.4 seeds Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs in the final, as the veteran pair were always aggressive, rushing the net and displaying their impressive shot variety. The match lasted more than two hours and went to two tie-breaks, with Azarenka and Kirilenko saving two set points in the second one and finally closing it out in straight sets, 76(4) 76(8).
"We had to come up with different things. If we played the same way, they would have adapted and taken advantage of it," Azarenka said. "Both of them have really good serves and it was tough to keep up, but we mixed it up and tried to be aggressive, and just tried to not let them play their game.
"It's not about who's a singles player or a doubles player. It's about what you can bring out on the court. They have experience you cannot even imagine - we had to fight and come up with something special every time."
Azarenka and Kirilenko didn't have the same success in their only two previous ventures, the quarterfinals of New Haven in 2007 and the semifinals of Stanford in July. This was Kirilenko's eighth Tour doubles title and Azarenka's fourth.
"From the first round you start to understand your partner more and more. We just talked a lot while we were playing," Kirilenko said. "All titles, singles or doubles, feel good. I'm happy to win today and Victoria played really well."
"It was great to play with Maria. Maybe later we can play some more together," Azarenka said. "It was also great to see so many people watching today. It's amazing when so many people come to watch doubles. It's good energy."
Raymond and Stubbs didn't lose a set en route to the final either, including a semifinal upset of No.1 seeds Liezel Huber and Nadia Petrova. They already have 33 Tour titles together, including one from earlier this year in Eastbourne.
Raymond and Stubbs were playing their second straight final, having been runners-up at San Diego last week to Kirilenko and Zheng Jie.
Raymond & Stubbs Oust No.1 Seeds [WTAtour.com]
CINCINNATI, OH, USA - The Top 2 seeded teams were bundled out in the doubles semifinals, leaving one veteran pair and one green pair to fight it out for the Western & Southern Financial Group Women's Open.
Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs, the No.4 seeds, were the first team to move through, upsetting No.1 seeds Liezel Huber and Nadia Petrova, 75 62. Raymond and Stubbs had a rough patch in the first set, losing five of six games to see their 3-0 lead become 4-5 - but didn't have much more trouble.
"We played incredibly solid," Stubbs said after the match. "We served really well, returned great and played well on the important points. We're happy with everything that went on today and very excited about tomorrow."
"It was huge for us to get that first set under our belt before the rain delay," Raymond said. "We're playing well. We made the finals last week too."
"Lisa and I have played so much together, and since Eastbourne we've been really showing our best tennis again," Stubbs added. "We're in great shape, our movement is great and we almost know what the other one is going to do."
Raymond and Stubbs will be going for their second title of the year, after Eastbourne. They are seeking their 34th career title together.
In the second semifinal, No.2 seeds Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta came out on fire, going up 2-0 and holding points for 3-0; but Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko rose from the ashes, taking 12 of the next 13 games for a 62 61 win. Pennetta held serve in the second game of the second set, although Azarenka and Kirilenko did hold two game points in that game as well.
Azarenka and Kirilenko will be going for their first title together.
Vika & Maria Victorious In QFs [WTAtour.com]
CINCINNATI, OH, USA - Having saved four match points to get out of their round of 16 match, Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta had a far cleaner day at the office on Quarterfinal Friday, moving past Cara Black and Anastasia Rodionova in a straight-setter on a hot day in Cincinnati, 64 64.
Dulko and Pennetta, four-time Sony Ericsson WTA Tour doubles titlists this year together and the No.2 seeds here, broke the Rodionova serve in the first game of each set and never really looked back each time, reaching their seventh semifinal of 2010 with the handy win over the No.8 seeds.
Earlier, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko continued to rebound from dramatic singles losses with another win in the doubles, saving set point down 5-4 in the second set to beat Sania Mirza and Monica Niculescu. Azarenka lost to Ana Ivanovic in the first round after being 62 53 up; Kirilenko lost to Vera Zvonareva in the second round after leading 5-2 in the third set.
At night, No.1 seeds Liezel Huber and Nadia Petrova made it past No.7 seeds and recent Stanford finalists Chan Yung-Jan and Zheng Jie, 62 64.
"Nadia and I played one of the toughest teams," Huber said. "We played smart and had a lot of fun. We are very excited to reach another semifinal together."
"It was quite an exciting match with a lot of tight rallies - we enjoyed it very much," Petrova said. "Pretty much everyone stayed from the singles match so I hope they enjoyed it. We were playing pretty confidently from the beginning until the end. Things got closer at the end but we were able to close it out."
No.4 seeds Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs reached the semis with a 63 61 win over wildcards Carly and Chelsea Gullickson on Wednesday night.
Huber and Petrova will face Raymond and Stubbs in the semifinals.
"It will be an interesting match," Petrova said. "They're very experienced and we'll have to leave everything out there. They'll be tough. Anything can happen."
Petrova also commented on the many improvements made to the facilities for players and fans alike at the tournament: "They've made things so comfortable for everyone and it makes us all look forward to coming back next year. I'm also looking forward to the combined event next year."
Raymond & Stubbs move on [WTAtour.com]
CINCINNATI, OH, USA - Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs began their quest for their second Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title of the year on Wednesday, cruising past Natalie Grandin and Abigail Spears in their first match of the Western & Southern Financial Group Women's Open.
Raymond and Stubbs, seeded No.4 and the recipients of a first round bye this week, needed just 57 minutes to beat Grandin and Spears, losing serve twice but breaking their opponents five times en route to the victory.
Raymond and Stubbs won 32 titles together between 1996 and 2005 and, after four and a half years off, reunited at the beginning of 2010 and have been one of the top teams out there, winning one title (at the Premier-level tournament in Eastbourne) as well as one more final (just last week in San Diego, where they lost to Russian-Chinese duo Maria Kirilenko and Zheng Jie in the final).
The No.4-seeded pair will play its quarterfinal match Thursday night against American wildcards Carly and Chelsea Gullickson, who beat No.6 seeds Alisa Kleybanova and Ekaterina Makarova earlier in the week.
Other second round winners were Sania Mirza and Monica Niculescu, who upset No.5 seeds and recent Wimbledon champions Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova, 64 64, and the aforementioned Gullicksons.
The first round of doubles wrapped up as well, with No.7 seeds Zheng and Chan Yung-Jan, Kirilenko and Victoria Azarenka, and Meghann Shaughnessy and Elena Vesnina all winning through. Shaughnessy and Vesnina beat Akgul Amanmuradova and Vera Dushevina in a match tie-break, 46 64 107, and will next play No.8 seeds Cara Black and Anastasia Rodionova.
Pictures: (click to enlarge)