Saturday, October 22, 2011

King, Shvedova head to Istanbul on high note

   Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova know how to peak for big events.
   The second seeds, preparing for next week's TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships in Istanbul, rallied to beat fourth-seeded Anastasia Rodionova and Galina Voskoboeva 7-6 (3), 6-3 Saturday for the doubles title at the $721,000 Kremlin Cup in Moscow.
   King and Shvedova saved two set points at 5-6 in the first set and overcame a 3-1 deficit in the second set to win their second WTA doubles title of the year and fourth since becoming partners in June 2010.
  King and Shvedova captured their first two titles in Grand Slam tournaments: Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year. They also won the Cincinnati crown in their last tournament before this year's U.S. Open, in which they lost a three-set heartbreaker to Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond in the final.
  "I guess Slava and I bloom late in the season," King, a member of the Sacramento Capitals living in Boynton Beach, Fla., said on the WTA's Web site. "It was a high level from all four players (Saturday). We played consistently and stepped it up on the big points. They played well. Maybe their level dropped in the second set, but overall I think we all played a really good match. I guess we were just a bit luckier on the big points.
   "We didn't know our schedule for the last few weeks, but I'm really glad we came to Moscow. We had a great week for practice and for matches, and it was a great experience to play here to get ready for Istanbul."
   All four doubles finalists except King were born in Russia but play for other countries. Shvedova and Voskoboeva hail from Moscow but compete for Kazakhstan. Rodionova, a native of Tambov (300 miles southeast of Moscow) and a former Capital, became an Australian citizen in 2009.
   Blake falls -- James Blake, the runner-up in the $100,000 Sacramento Challenger two weeks ago, lost to Jarkko Nieminen 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-2 in the semifinals of the $825,000 Stockholm Open.
   After losing his first six matches against Blake, Nieminen has won the last two, both in Stockholm. Blake, a 31-year-old Tampa, Fla., resident, was bidding for his third Stockholm crown after beating Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand in the 2005 final and Nieminen in the 2006 title match.
   Nieminen, a 30-year-old Finn, will face top-seeded Gael Monfils, a Frenchman who beat sixth-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-3.
   Monfils and Raonic were scheduled to meet in the San Jose semifinals in February, but Monfils defaulted with a left wrist injury. Raonic, who will turn 21 in December, went on to beat defending champion Fernando Verdasco of Spain for his first ATP World Tour title.
   The unseeded Nieminen, who reached a career-high No. 13 in the world in 2006, seeks his first Stockholm title in his third appearance in the final. He fell to Sjeng Schalken of the Netherlands 10 years ago in addition to Blake five years ago.
   Nieminen is 1-9 in ATP World Tour finals, having beaten Mario Ancic of Croatia for the 2006 Auckland title.
   Lu tops Wang for title -- Top-seeded Yen-Hsun Lu, the runner-up in the 2007 Sacramento Challenger, defeated unseeded Jimmy Wang, a Folsom resident, 7-5, 6-3 in an all-Taiwanese final at the $100,000 Samsung Securities Cup in Seoul, South Korea.
   Wang, a former top-100 player who trains with Dmitry Tursunov at the Gorin Tennis Academy in Granite Bay, returned to action last November after missing three years because of two operations on his right (playing) wrist. He reached the semifinals of the $15,000 Sacramento Futures in June.

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