The Herald (Harare)

22 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Cara Out of Australian Open

CARA Black is taking no further part at the 2013 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne.

The 33-year-old Zimbabwean's hopes of winning her second Australian Open women's doubles title

went up in smoke yesterday when she failed to reach the quarter-finals of the first Grand Slam of the year.

According to reports from Melbourne, Black and her Australian partner Anastasia Rodionova, who had fought all their way to the third round, finally met their match in the seventh-seeded pair of Nuria Llagostera Vives of Spain and China's Jie Zheng yesterday.

Llagostera and Zheng pulled through to the Australian Open women's doubles quarter-finals after beating Black and Rodionova in straight sets 7-5, 6-2.

The match lasted one hour 34 minutes on Show Court Three.

Yesterday's defeat to Llagostera Vives and Zheng blew Black and Rodionova's hopes of winning their second straight women's doubles title on the road this year.

Black and Rodionova came to the Australian Open oozing with confidence after winning the women's doubles title at the season-opening ASB Classic tournament in Auckland, New Zealand, three weeks ago.

Unseeded at the Australian Open, Black and Rodionova opened their campaign at the first Grand Slam of the year brightly by beating the Australian pair of Monique Adamczak and Stephanie Bengson in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 in the first round.

In the second round, Black and Rodionova came up against Japan's Shuko Aoyama and American Irina Falconi who they handed a 6-4, 6-4 defeat on Saturday.

But the wheels finally came off Black and Rodionova in yesterday's third round tie against Llagostera Vives and Zheng who first needed 57 minutes to win the first set 7-5 and then 37 minutes to clinch the second 6-2 to book their place in the last eight.

This saw Black failing in her bid to win her second Australian Open women's doubles title after her success with former American partner Liezel Huber in 2007.

In Melbourne this year, Black was also looking at winning her sixth Grand Slam women's doubles title in her illustrious career after successful campaigns at Wimbledon in 2004, 2005 and 2007, at the Australian Open in 2007 and at the US Open in 2008.

But this year saw Black walking away from the Australian Open empty-handed after she also failed to make the final of the mixed doubles competition.

In the mixed doubles, Black combined forces with Australia's Paul Hanley and the pair failed to jump the first hurdle on Sunday, losing to Huber and Max Mirnyi of Belarus in straight sets 6-2, 6-3.

Black and Hanley were unseeded while Huber and Mirnyi are seeded fourth.

Black is making a comeback on the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Tour this year after spending more than a year out due to pregnancy.

She gave birth to her first child - a boy Lachlan - in April last year and briefly returned to the courts in October where she competed in two ITF US$25 000 events in Australia with Arina Rodionova.

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