21 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Cara's Mixed Fortunes

TOP Zimbabwean female tennis player Cara Black met with mixed fortunes at the on-going Australian Open in Melbourne at the weekend.

After pulling through to the third round of the women's doubles with her Australian partner Anastasia Rodionova on Saturday, Black (33) was a

first-round casualty in the mixed doubles yesterday.

Yesterday saw Black and Australia's Paul Hanley combining forces in the mixed doubles competition where they came up against American Liezel Huber and Max Mirnyi of Belarus in the first round.

And according to reports from Melbourne, the fourth-seeded pair of Huber and Mirnyi had more firepower for their unseeded opponents who they beat in straight sets 6-3, 6-2 to move into the next round.

This denied Black the chance of winning her second Australian Open mixed doubles title after having won it for the first time in her career with India's Leander Paes in 2010.

Interestingly, Huber, who helped Mirnyi to beat Black and Hanley yesterday, is Black's former women's doubles partner and the pair were the winners of the women's doubles title at the 2007 Australian Open.

They also triumphed at Wimbledon in 2007 in which they also ended the year as the world's number one women's doubles team, winning the year-end championships over Katarina Srebotnik and Ai Sugiyama 5-7, 6-3, 10-8.

Black and Huber broke up mutually from being exclusive doubles partners in April 2010. Since, Black partnered with Shahar Pe'er, Elena Vesnina, Zi Yan, Lisa Raymond, Daniela Hantuchová, Marina Erakovic and Rodionova.

Meanwhile, after failing to jump the first hurdle in the mixed doubles yesterday, Black is now hoping to redeem herself in the women's doubles in Melbourne where she is already through to the third round with her Australian partner Rodionova.

Black and Rodionova, who are unseeded at this year's Australian Open, continued with their fine form at the first Grand Slam of the year on Saturday when they beat Japan's Shuko Aoyama and Irina Falconi of the United States in straight sets.

It took Black and Rodionova one hour and 18 minutes to see off their fellow unseeded opponents 6-4, 6-4 in their second round tie on Margaret Court Arena on Saturday.

Black and Rodionova will today fight for a place in the women's doubles quarter-finals against the seventh-seeded pair of Nuria Llagostera Vives of Spain and China's Jie Zheng.

Llagostera Vives and Zheng booked a date with Black and Rodionova in today's women's doubles third round at the Australian Open after beating Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova and Yanina Wickmayer of Belarus in straight sets 6-3, 6-3 in their second round match at the weekend.

The winners of today's third round tie featuring Black and Rodionova and their seventh-seeded opponents Llagostera Vives and Zheng will either meet the pair of Varvara Lepchenko of the United States and China's Saisai Zheng or the duo of Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm and Spain's Arantxa Parra Santonja in the quarter-finals later this week.

In Melbourne, Black and Rodionova are gunning for their second straight women's doubles title of the year after their success at the season-opening ASB Classic tournament in Auckland, New Zealand, three weeks ago.

This was Black's 55th women's doubles title she has won since turning professional in January 1998.

In fact, Black has won five Grand Slam women's doubles titles in her career: Wimbledon 2004, 2005 and 2007; Australian Open 2007; and US Open 2008. And she is going out for a record sixth Grand Slam women's doubles title at this year's Australian Open in Melbourne.

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