The Herald (Harare)

7 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Cara Wins ASB Title

TOP Zimbabwean female tennis player Cara Black returned to the international scene in style by winning the doubles title at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, on Saturday.

According to reports from Auckland, multiple Grand Slam doubles champion Black and her Australian partner Anastasia Rodionova claimed the ASB Classic doubles title after beating Julia Goerges of Germany Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova in three sets.

The wildcard entry of Black and Rodionova came from behind against the top seeds Goerges and Shvedova to win 2-6, 6-2, 10-5 in the first match on centre court at the ASB Tennis Arena on Saturday.

Black and Rodionova will split US$11 500, which was on the table for the winners of the doubles titles at this year's ASB Classic in Auckland.

The win is the third ASB Classic doubles crown for Black after she claimed the title three years ago in 2010 with long-time doubles partner Liezel Huber of the United States and 13 years ago back in 2000.

Black, who now lives in Melbourne, might have 54 doubles titles under her belt but this was her first WTA tournament after giving birth to her first child, eight-month-old Lachlan.

This was Rodionova's fifth WTA title but Black's 55th doubles title. She is now tied with Wendy Turnbull for 13th-most doubles titles in WTA history.

Next the pair head to the Australian Open, the adopted Australians' home tournament, and Black still has the desire to add another Grand Slam title to her collection of 10 titles.

Black came back to tennis last fall one year after having a baby and this was her first WTA event since the comeback.

Black also has five Grand Slam doubles titles to her name and will play with Rodionova in Melbourne as she aims for a sixth.

The 33-year-old Black told reporters after Saturday's sweet victory: "It's a fairy tale. It's pretty amazing."

Before Saturday's match, Black was a winner of five Grand Slams and 49 WTA titles and is making come back after more than a year out.

Speaking to the WTA site before Saturday's match, Black commented: "I'd actually never really had a break from the game before -- fortunately I was injury-free in my whole career, so I played full schedules, year in, year out.

"So when I left the tour I was sort of mentally fried from all the years of travelling and things. Then the time away refreshed me a lot, and having a child changed my whole perspective a lot.

"I had time on my hands so I started going out and hitting again, and it felt good, so I thought I'd give it a bash again, nothing to lose, have a bit of fun, really!"

Black did play some ITF events last fall and had this to say about them: "We dealt with some really tough weather, some extreme conditions. It was kind of off-putting but also a great test, and I'm glad I did it. I really enjoyed it. I played with Arina (Rodionova) - I was also there to help her with her singles. It felt good to be back. I enjoyed it, which is the most important thing, really."

Black will also play the Australian Open in Melbourne with Rodionova.

The Australian Open - the first Grand Slam of the year - will run from January 14 to 27.

Black has juggled a busy tennis career playing singles, doubles and mixed doubles, collecting 54 doubles titles and 10 Grand Slam titles along the way.

But nothing compares to the juggling she has to do now that she is the mother to eight-month-old Lachlan.

"It's a little more full-on than usual but luckily my husband's here to help. There's a few more things to think about after a match like nappy changing."

Black now lives in Melbourne.

Black might have a wealth of doubles titles but the Auckland event was her first WTA tournament after giving birth to her first child.

She's really enjoying being back on tour and her tennis isn't too shoddy either.

"We couldn't ask for a better start to the year than to make the final. And it's been nice seeing all the girls again. It's great having lots of babysitters."

Next the pair of Black and Rodionova head to the Australian Open, the adopted Australians' home tournament, and Black still has the desire to add another Grand Slam title to her collection.

"The Slams are every tennis player's dream and it's definitely our motivation."

Rodionova says she couldn't have found a better doubles partner to pair up with, saying they have a very similar understanding of the game.

"She is an unbelievable volleyer. I don't think there's a better one in the game." Black claims she takes care of the volleys and Rodionova takes care of the rest.

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