Sunday, September 11, 2011

King, Shvedova fall short in bid to repeat

   Vania King sat at courtside and buried her head in a towel.
   King and Yaroslava Shvedova, seeded third and seeking their second consecutive U.S. Open women's doubles title, had just lost to fourth-seeded Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3) in Sunday's final at Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Shvedova, who will turn 24 Monday, served for the match at 5-4 in the second set. The Moscow native, who plays for Kazakhstan, also had the match on her racket at 5-4 in the second-set tiebreaker but double-faulted, and she and King lost the next point after Shvedova's 76-mph first serve.
   "Bloody devastated but trying to put it in perspective ... we had a great tournament," tweeted the 22-year-old King, who completed her second season with the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis in July.
   King and Shvedova won Wimbledon in addition to the U.S. Open last year, their first season together. In the final at Flushing Meadows, they saved a match point and defeated Huber and Nadia Petrova in a third-set tiebreaker.
   This year, however, King and Shvedova failed to win a Grand Slam title. Shvedova missed the Australian Open because of a knee injury.
   King and Shvedova were trying to become the first women's doubles team to repeat at the U.S. Open since Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain and Paola Suarez of Argentina won three straight titles from 2002 to 2004. Nathalie Dechy of France won in 2006 and 2007 with Vera Zvonareva and Dinara Safina, respectively.
   Huber, a 35-year-old U.S. citizen originally from South Africa, and Raymond, 38, of Wayne, Pa., began playing together in April and finished as the runners-up to Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko at Stanford in July.
   Raymond leads active players with 72 career women's doubles titles, and Huber ranks fourth with 46. They have won six and five Grand Slam women's doubles crowns, respectively. Experience helped them prevail in Sunday's tiebreakers, Raymond said.
   "We have numerous titles and numerous Grand Slams, and we've been in these positions before. Even when we were down and they were serving for the match, we just stuck together and grinded it out, and now we're sitting here as U.S. Open champions," Raymond, who became the oldest player to win a Grand Slam women's doubles title, told reporters.
  Huber, who will rise to No. 1 in women's doubles Monday for the third time in her career, has reached the U.S. Open women's doubles final for the past four years. She won the 2008 crown with Cara Black against Raymond and Samantha Stosur.
  It took Huber exactly three years to win another Grand Slam women's doubles title. Raymond had gone more than five years without one, last triumphing at the 2006 French Open with Samantha Stosur.

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