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Huber and Raymond survive scare in second round

Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond strategize during their doubles match against Samantha Stosur and Casey Dellacqua.
by Matt Trollope
Friday 29 June 2012

No.1 seeds Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond survived an almighty scare in second round of the women’s doubles, recovering from a set down to defeat Australian duo Sam Stosur and Casey Dellacqua.

In rapidly fading light at SW19, the American pairing scored a 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 victory in two hours and five minutes to set up a third round meeting with Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Petra Martic.

The Australians complemented each other beautifully, with Dellacqua’s deft touch – most notably her countless winning lobs – and Stosur’s strength overhead combining to put the top seeds under immense pressure.

The opening set progressed on serve until the 11th game, where Stosur and Dellacqua moved ahead 0-40 with a net-cord winner after a series of defensive lobs. They broke before comfortably serving it out, Stosur punching the final winning volley.

With their coordination and timing slightly off in the first set, Huber and Raymond quickly asserted their authority in the second, breaking serve in the fourth game and establishing a 4-1 lead. A running forehand winner from Huber made it 5-1, and although Stosur and Dellacqua got one break back, they couldn’t stop the Americans levelling the match.

Huber and Raymond broke immediately to begin the third set and looked to have run away with the match. But the Australians rallied, with Stosur smoking an off-forehand winner to break back for 1-1. Games then went on serve until the No.1 seeds came out on top of some intense rallies to break for a 4-3 lead. Two games later, they had clinched the match.

Defending champions bundled out

Earlier in the day, the draw was rocked by its biggest upset when defending champions Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik crashed out in three sets to Italians Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone.

It hasn’t been the best of seasons for the Czech-Slovenian pairing, who last year won six titles – including the Championships – to become the top-ranked doubles pairing in 2011. This year, they’ve won a solitary title in Sydney, and their middling form in 2012 continued when they took on Pennetta and Schiavone in the second round on Court 12.

The Italians started strongly, more effective on serve and pressuring the third seeds when returning to pocket the opening set. It was a different story in the second, with Peschke and Srebotnik vastly improving their first serve percentage and not facing a break point on their way to levelling scores.

Yet Pennetta and Schiavone are a tough combo, experienced from years of playing together in Fed Cup. They’ve paired up more often this year on tour as they prepare to represent Italy at the Olympic event in July, and their increased synchronicity showed in the final set.

They gained an service break in the second game when Schiavone hooked a forehand down the line past Peschke, and never looked back, running out 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 winners.

Other seeds progressed untroubled

The rest of the day’s action generally followed the script. Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Sania Mirza were one of the first seeded pairings to advance to the third round on Day 5, catching the eye of spectators thanks to their proficient 6-3, 6-2 victory over Frenchwomen Stephanie Foretz Gacon and Kristina Mladenovic as well as Mattek-Sands’ vibrant blue hair.

Meanwhile, No.2 seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci continued their stellar Grand Slam form against Tamira Paszek and Christina McHale on Court 14. In a match between players all still alive in the women’s singles – except for McHale, who fell to Angelique Kerber this afternoon – it promised to be an absorbing contest. But Errani and Vinci, the French Open winners and finalists at the Australian Open, made light work of their opponents, cruising to a 6-1, 6-3 victory.

All other seeded combinations moved through to the third round with the exception of eighth-seeded Czechs Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova, who fell in straight sets to Olga Govortsova and Mandy Minella.

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