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A new era in Wimbledon ladies' doubles?

Posted 05-20-2011 at 01:30 PM by Philip Oliver
The landscape of the WTA doubles scene is changing. Established doubles players like the Williams sisters (six victories together in the last 11 slams) Cara Black, Liezel Huber and Virginia Ruano Pascual are gradually departing the upper reaches of the doubles rankings, leaving opportunities for younger players and newer partnerships to take centre stage.

Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova lifted the Wimbledon title last year and followed up with a triumph at the US Open. Theirs was a promising partnership but was interrupted this season, although they reunited to reach the final of the Rome Masters.

The current top ranked doubles team is Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik, who have reaped the benefits of playing regularly together - no pair in the top 10 of the rankings has played as many as their 10 tournaments together. They were recently runners-up in Madrid and those looking at the Wimbledon betting should bear them in mind.

That tournament was won by Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko, who are ranked second in the world and are the best individual players in terms of combined WTA singles rankings. Both players have improved as singles players as their partnership has developed. However, Azarenka looks well-placed for a decent singles run at Wimbledon, so punters might be wary of backing them, especially considering the Belarusian's tendency to develop injuries and fatigue.

Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta won the Australian Open doubles title this year, which looked like being the first of many slam triumphs together after their impressive run of form in 2010. However, they have faltered recently, with Dulko in particular struggling with her game.

Zheng Jie and Peng Shuai won in Rome and are certainly worth following at SW19. Zheng won the 2006 title with Zi Yan and whilst the Chinese pair lack tournament experience together, they know are regular practice partners.

The Czech pair of Iveta Benesova and Barbora Strycova Zahlavova enjoys similar familiarity and has enjoyed success this season. The other leading players are yet to confirm their partnerships, but this year's doubles' event promises to be as wide-open as the singles' tournament.
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