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Winning combinations from doubles courts

Magdalena Rybarikova and Andrea Petkovic on Court 12
by Michael Beattie
Saturday 5 July 2014

Andrea Petkovic and Magdalena Rybarikova

Tennis is a richer place for Andrea Petkovic’s presence – and to think a year ago she was considering quitting the game. Ranked as low as No.177 in the world, on the recovery trail from another serious injury and struggling to regain her form, she looked into a career in journalism. Suffice to say, sticking with her racket has proved to be the right decision.

And while her run to the semi-finals at Roland Garros truly announced her return to the sharp end of the women’s game in 2014, Paris also provided a glimpse of the return of her doubles form. Alongside Magdalena Rybarikova (above), as she was at The Championships, the German-Slovakian duo fell in the third round to eventual finalists Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci in three sets.

The same fate befell them at Wimbledon – this time at the hands of Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos in the semi-finals – but the partnership is blossoming and a real joy to watch on court. Hopefully it will last until the US Open, where another deep run could see the pair reach the 2014 WTA Finals in Singapore.

Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock

Who else? For those of a Canuck disposition, Wimbledon 2014 has been a Grand Slam for the ages. Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic will understandably grab the headlines, but there’s also been Daniel Nestor’s run towards the defence of his Mixed Doubles title alongside Mladenovic, and the real turn-up for the Canadians – Vasek Pospisil’s incredible run with American partner Jack Sock to the Gentlemen’s Doubles title.

And to think, it might not have happened at all. Sock, winner of the 2011 US Open Mixed Doubles title alongside Melanie Oudin, turned to Pospisil on the eve of the entry deadline for the event. The Vancouver native agreed, but explained that he was nursing a back injury and warned the 21-year-old that he might have to withdraw should it get worse.

Sock gambled, Pospisil recovered, and the unseeded duo set off on a campaign that saw them out the No.2, No.5 and No.8 seeds the hard way en route to their final showdown with defending champions the Bryan brothers, compensating for signs of positional naivety with some fine touch, daring invention around the net, solid serving and huge hitting throughout the Fortnight.

Will the #Pospisock partnership last beyond the All England Club? Time will tell – but if nothing else, a repeat in 2015 must be on the cards...

Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos

It may seem a little contrary to brand the winners of a combined 15 doubles titles as ones to watch, but Mladenovic and Babos reached their first Grand Slam doubles final together and could go on to greater things. The French-

Hungarian duo are both armed with big serves, aggressive returns and have good doubles brains – circling one another as they swarm forward in attack and scrambling in tandem in defence.

Wimbledon saw both players produce their best Grand Slam doubles result, so expect more from them as they head to the US for the summer – although there’s no guarantee they’ll play together. Both have played plenty of doubles this season with a range of partners in 2014, Babos bagging two titles in two different teams as well as reaching the final in Paris alongside Mladenovic, who also has a title to her name this season.

The best doubles partnerships benefit from familiarity on court and off, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Who knows, maybe they’ll run into one another at the sharp end of a Slam in the future. At least the crowd will be in for a treat.

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