This year makes the mark on a multitude of levels — the longest match in history happened, Roger Federer faded a little in majors (if a win and two quarterfinals can be called such), Serena Williams looks sharp as ever with her two titles, Venus Williams faltered at Wimbledon (the quarterfinal curse?), and a well-loved Spaniard with a disappointing 2009 cemented his lead in the rankings, collecting the French Open — Wimbledon titles, and securing the top ranking. That Spaniard is Rafael Nadal (in case you were wondering).
And that’s just in singles.
But this year, doubles captures just as much of the excitement and accomplishment as it’s lonelier (get it?) counterpart. Here’s how.
First, the Williams sisters team dominated the last four of five majors — they didn’t quite make it at Wimbledon where they lost in…the quarterfinals. Regardless, this year will be remembered for their holding the last consecutive four titles in process. They call it the “Williams Slam,” a good name for a historic effort by the duo. At the time of hoisting the French Open title, Serena and Venus were ranked number one and two, respectively.
On the men’s side, this powerful combination will soon be a reality, too. At the majors? Probably not for a long time. But, anyway, here’s what a post on the Facebook page for the Rogers Cup tournament in Montreal read: “Huge news straight from Rogers Cup Tournament Director Karl Hale: Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic will play doubles together in Toronto!”
That’s a huge step for the sport, and definitely deserving of that exclamation point. To have the top players invested in doubles means more attention is paid, there’s more excitement, more energy, more people watching, and, therefore, a greater overall appreciation for it. While it’s too early to say how the Nadal – Djokovic combination will fare — both on and off court — it’s a step in the right direction. I can only hope that more guys inside the top twenty will follow suite, and soon.
At the head of the ATP doubles circuit are, of course, the Bryan brothers, who recently scored their 62nd title — and 100th tour-level final — to overtake the record set by Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde of Australia. The American twins are going strong, and I have no doubt that they will soon surpass the record 11 major titles that the “Woodies” won. Currently, the Bryans have eight to their name. Nine should be theirs once the US Open comes to a close. Number ten — their beloved Australian Open. At the Sunny Slam, they’ve won the last two titles with four overall.
Other noteworthy news: Lindsay Davenport is back in the mix, partnering with Liezel Huber, albeit briefly. Sandra Klemenschits made some appearances in the last couple tournaments. She played with veteran Patty Schnyder as the number three seed in Istanbul.
Even Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova are making headlines with their play at the senior’s event at Wimbledon. Hingis isn’t ruling out making a comeback on tour, maybe partnering with Davenport. It’d be great to see these fine players continue their games in the coming months. I’ll follow their compelling stories as the season winds down. You should, too.
All these results point to one thing — doubles matters, and it’s relevant in today’s world of tennis. Very relevant. There needs to be more involvement from the top tier of players, and more overlap between the singles and doubles tours. In the words of Sarah Unke, Tennis.com’s editor, “Now if only Roger Federer and Andy Murray would team up.”
Patty Schnyder and Sandra Klemenschits make for a compelling story as the third-seeded pair at the Istanbul Cup. Schnyder, who’s potentially retiring after this year, is out of the singles, but looked strong with Klemnschits in their first round match. The duo won over Johanna Larsson — the player that defeated Schnyder in singles — and Tatjana Malek in two sets, advancing 6-3, 6-4.
Klemenschits made news not necessarily for her doubles play, although she did win 20 titles on the ITF circuit, but more so for the cancer that took the life of her doubles partner and twin sister Daniela in 2008.
Seeing both players come together in doubles must be a special thing to watch. I hope they go far in the tournament.
Here’s a recap of some of the highlights on the WTA tour at both the Istanbul Cup and in the US Open Series tournmanet at Stanford:
- Wimbledon semifinalist Tsvetana Pironkova continues to be a rollercoaster ride on tour after her amazing run. She lost to Anastasia Rodionova 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.
- The Latvian teenager Anastasija Sevastova, who beat Petra Kvitova in the first round, was ousted from Istanbul with a three-set loss to Vera Dushevina, 6-3, 6-7 (8), 6-2.
- At the Stanford tournament, Sam Stosur reached a career-high ranking of 5 in the world after beating American qualifier Christina McHale in two sets. Stosur advanced with her 6-1, 7-5 win.
- Agnieszka Radwanska and Yanina Wickmayer both needed two sets to advance. Melanie Oudin, however, needed a tough three-setter to close out Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada. The teenage Oudin eked through 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-3.