x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Doubles joy for Spaniards after hard-fought victory

Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria-Jose Martinez Sanchez dispatch Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 in the doubles final.

DUBAI // Spain reigned supreme on centre court last night as Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria-Jose Martinez Sanchez dispatched Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic and Slovenian Katarina Srebotnik 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 in the doubles final of the WTA Dubai Tennis Championships. It is the Spaniards' ninth title toget-her and makes it a Middle East double after the pair clinched the Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha in October. But their bid for success did not start well with Peschke-Srebotnik breaking their opponents at the earliest opportunity in the second game, with Llagostera Vives double-faulting to lose to love.

Indeed, the East European pairing - particularly Peschke who won the doubles title here in 2006 alongside Francesca Schiavone - looked far more comfortable early on with Peschke dominating at the net and Srebotnik hitting long, hard forehands down the lines to race to a 5-2 lead. But they could not finish their opponents off and when, in the ninth game of the first set, the pair suffered a breakdown of communication, they found themselves chasing the game from the baseline after Martinez Sanchez aggressively returned Srebotnik's serve.

The Spaniards broke again in the 11th to take the lead for the first time in the match and momentum had clearly swung in their favour. With Peschke-Srebotnik holding serve, a tie-break ensued and after a resolute battle the Spaniards, who both competed in the singles event, took the first set. The second set was equally hard-fought, with Peschke-Srebotnik claiming another early break in the third. But again they failed to hold on and the Spaniards broke back straight away. In the crucial ninth, however, the Spaniards broke again to take the lead late in the set. They did not let their advantage slip and quickly closed out the final game to clinch their 13th doubles title together.

Martinez Sanchez said her long-term partnership with Llagostera Vives was key to victory. She said: "In doubles, if you are focused all the time you have a chance in every game. If you can have the same partner for a long time, this is the key [to success]. I think that it is important that we are from the same country. After Doha, this is the second premier event we have won. Our next goal is to win a grand slam." gmeenaghan@thenational.ae