Two of a kind (cont.)
Posted: Thursday March 29, 2007 11:14AM; Updated: Thursday March 29, 2007 11:14AM
Some of the most successful partnerships stand the test of time while others don't. A success story would be the team of Virginia Ruano-Pascual and Paola Suarez, one of the greatest doubles partnerships of all time. They have had their share of injuries in the past few years but have stuck it out together, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. You know the saying!
On the flip side of that would be a team I know very well, Raymond and Stubbs. Rennae and I had an incredible run together in the late 1990s into the early '00s compiling numerous titles, Grand Slams and reaching the No. 1 ranking in the world. Along the way we had many highs and lows, and after a "trial separation," we played together again in '05.
We quickly learned that sometimes it truly is better to let old dogs lie. The reunion didn't go so well. But on a happier note, we have a great friendship now and have moved on and found different partners.
While not often the case, some teams reconcile after a divorce such as Cara Black-Liezel Huber, while others move onto the next suitor, such as Kveta Peschke-Stubbs. Sometimes in doubles, it's not always "love at first sight."
Take my partnership with Sam Stosur, for example. We couldn't buy a win in our first three events as a team. After almost "breaking up," we decided to sit down and talk. Communicate! Within a week of that "session," the partnership clicked. The wins started coming and we haven't looked back since.
Doubles partnerships seem to fall into various categories. There are the singles players who hook up to play doubles together more for match practice than for winning titles. Match play is used to work on serving, returning and volleys while being in a competitive environment that's not as stressful as singles. Examples of this joint venture are the pairings of Svetlana Kuznetsova-Nadia Petrova and Martina Hingis-Daniela Hantuchova.
Having said that, the Swiss Miss is without a doubt one of the greatest doubles players ever. Yes, that's doubles, I said. I have always thought that she never got enough credit for the doubles player she was and is today. Four Aussie Open titles with four different partners -- need I say more? The one time I was supposed to play with Martina, she had to pull out due to an injury. How's that for bad timing?
Another category would be the doubles-only combo. The partnerships of Black-Huber and Peschke-Stubbs are examples of teams who play doubles and only doubles. Doubles in the morning, doubles in the evening, doubles all the time.
Then there are teams that are made up of players who play singles and doubles, the iron men (or women in this case) of our tour. Ai Sugiyama, Elena Likhovtseva, as well as my partner, Stosur, are examples of this group. Each week their names can be found in both draws, progressing deep in each.
Last and certainly not least, there are the doubles-only players. Players who have recently (three weeks in my case) have stopped playing singles and now team up with "singles players" to play doubles. This faction is home to players such as Corina Morariu and me. I am starting to get used to my new residence, a place where you fine-tune your doubles skills with hitting partners or fellow co-ops of this dwelling.
So how do you find the perfect doubles partner? My advice is to look someone you like as a person. Someone you feel you have chemistry with, whose game compliments your own and with whom you wouldn't mind having a coffee. You never know, it could be a match made in tennis heaven!