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Old Mar 18th, 2012, 12:02 AM   #24
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Full Women's Doubles quarter-final TV-report for Vera Zvonarëva

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THE CHAMPIONSHIPS (Wimbledon, London, England; grass; Major)
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Women's Doubles: Quarter-final TV-report: Zvonarëva/Vesnina v Williams×2 (Wednesday 30th June 2010)
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+ Vera Zvonarëva [EF]/Elena Vesnina d. (SERENA WILLIAMS/VENUS WILLIAMS)[1], 3-6 6-3 6-4

Vera and Elena put up an amazing performance to hand the Williams sisters their first doubles-loss of 2010. Some people said that this was an even bigger shock than Venus losing to Tsvetana Pironkova in the singles, because many expected the Williams sisters to win a calendar-year Grand Slam in Women's Doubles.

Indeed, the Williams sisters started the match looking like they could dominate doubles for decades to come, as they combined one sister's big serve with the other's intimidating presence at the net. They won the first set by virtue of a break of Vera's serve in the fourth game.

But the Russians executed great tactics in the second and third sets, such as using the ‘I’ formation on their first serves to keep the Williamses guessing, and intercepting the Williamses' crosscourt shots to hit winning volleys down the middle.

In the second set, the Russians saved a break-point against Vera at *1-1 (30/40), and another three against Elena at *2-2 (30/40 + Ad×2). They then broke Venus for a *4-2 lead, and went on to win the second set by holding serve.

In the third set, Elena faced break-point at *0-1 (30/40), but saved it with an ace down the middle. Then Elena broke Serena for *2-1 with the shot of the match: a gorgeous short-angled crosscourt forehand drop-volley winner!

Elena hit a high forehand volley-winner crosscourt to save break-back point against Vera at 1:1 *2-1 (30/40). The rest of the match went with serve, and it was Elena who had the honour of serving it out at *5-4.


First set
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ZVONARË/VESNINA _*___*_*_ 3
WILLIAM/WILLIAM *_*@*_*_* 6

The BBC commentators said that the Williams sisters were virtually invincible in doubles these days, as they have huge serves and groundstrokes, and have improved their movement and positioning.

The match was first on Court 2, and started at 12:15 BST. Vera and Venus were the ones who received serve in the ad-court for their respective teams.

Venus serving 0-0: First serve out wide: Elena netted a backhand return. 15/0. Serena intercepted Vera's crosscourt backhand to hit an off-backhand punch-volley winner. 30/0. Venus on the third stroke netted a forehand. 30/15. Vera netted a forehand under pressure from the Williamses at the net. 40/15 (GP #1). Elena went to the net behind a crosscourt forehand, inducing Venus to net a forehand. 40/30 (GP #2). Vera bunted a defensive forehand lob just long off a forehand smash from Serena. Held.

Elena serving 0-1: Venus backhand long. 15/0. Serena's forehand volley induced Vera to earth a backhand volley. 15/15. Elena's deep crosscourt forehand induced Serena to mishit a crosscourt forehand lob wide and long. 30/15. Virtual ace down the middle. 40/15 (GP #1). Venus hit a high backhand volley crosscourt into Vera's midriff, but she picked off an amazing backhand drop-volley winner! Held.

BBC commentator Tracy Austin: "So Vesnina playing the new style of doubles, where they serve and stay back, really rely on those powerful groundstrokes. Zvonarëva going with the ‘I’ formation, making Venus Williams /guess/ which way she's gonna go. Shows good respect for the returner."

Serena serving 1-1: First serve out wide forced a short return; Serena hit a deep crosscourt forehand just inside the baseline, forcing Vesnina to lunge and earth a backhand. 15/0. Serena bisected the Russians with a forehand volley-winner down the middle. 30/0. Virtual ace down the middle. 40/0 (GP #1). First serve down the middle forced a short floater, which Serena dispatched with an easy little forehand smash-winner. Held.

Vera serving 1-2: Serena hit a pinpoint crosscourt backhand lob onto the outer sideline, forcing Vera to earth a backhand lob. 0/15. Elena's half-volley backhand lob forced Venus to retreat and hoist a defensive lob, which Vera dispatched it with an off-forehand smash-winner. 15/15. Serena's deep crosscourt forehand return induced Vera to hit a forehand lob long. 15/30. Serena forced a floater, and dispatched it with a forehand smash-winner. 15/40 (BP #1). Elena on the third stroke intercepted Serena's crosscourt forehand return - only to net a forehand volley. Broken.

The Russians are serving and staying back.

Venus serving 3-1: Sliced second serve out wide to the sideline forced Elena to stretch wide and net a forehand return. 15/0. First serve out wide + Serena crosscourt backhand volley-winner. 30/0. Vera hit a crosscourt forehand into Venus's body at the net, forcing her to net a backhand volley. Vera apologised, although it was a perfectly legitimate shot. 30/15. Serena forced a short floater, and hit a crosscourt forehand smash-winner. 40/15 (GP #1). Venus went to the net, but Elena hit a short-angled crosscourt forehand pass-winner. 40/30 (GP #2). Elena hit an off-backhand volley at Serena's feet, but Serena picked off a crosscourt forehand reflex-volley winner. Held.

Elena serving 1-4: First serve: Serena hit a makeable backhand return just long. 15/0. Venus backhand volley long. 30/0. Deep first serve out wide induced Serena to net a forehand return. 40/0 (GP #1). Vera played the ‘I’ formation, leaping up to hit an off-forehand volley-winner on the third stroke. Held.

Serena serving 4-2: Venus bisected the Russians with an easy backhand volley-winner down the line. 15/0. Deep first serve out wide: Vera bunted a backhand return just long. 30/0. Ace down the middle: on the centre-line. 40/0 (GP #1). Virtual ace down the middle (Vera stretched wide and clipped it with her racket). Held.

It's very tough to break the Williams sisters in doubles, because they both have huge serves, and the other one is waiting at the net.

Vera serving 2-5 (new balls): Elena used the ‘I’ formation to hit a crosscourt forehand volley that induced Serena to hit a forehand just long. 15/0. Vera went for a body-jamming serve, but Venus sidestepped to hit an off-forehand return-winner. 15/15. Serena on the third stroke hit an off-forehand volley-winner into Elena's body. 15/30. Venus netted a backhand. 30/30. Elena called "mine" (or whatever they say in Russian) to take a skyscraper-lob, but hit a wild forehand smash long. 30/40 (SP #1 for Williams/Williams). Second serve: Venus hit a forehand return long. Deuce #1. First serve down the middle induced Serena to hit a backhand return long. Ad Vera (GP #1). Elena used the ‘I’ formation to hit an acute-angled crosscourt forehand volley-winner on the third stroke. Held.

Venus serving 5-3: Second serve: Elena hit a penetrating forehand return + deep off-backhand, forcing Venus to net a forehand. 0/15. Double fault #1 (second serve into the net). 0/30. Elena went to the net behind a deep crosscourt forehand, but Venus's crosscourt forehand clipped the netcord and curved into Elena's body, forcing her to hit a powderpuff backhand volley (accompanied by a Kvitová-esque bark), which Serena dispatched with an easy forehand smash-winner down the middle. 15/30. Deep second serve down the middle forced Vera to lunge wide and mishit an off-forehand return wide. 30/30. Ace down the middle: just inside the service-line. 40/30 (SP #2 for Williams/Williams). Elena's off-backhand volley into Serena's body forced Serena to net a backhand volley. Deuce #1. First serve out wide + Serena off-forehand volley-winner. Ad Venus (SP #3 for Williams/Williams). Serena hit a crosscourt forehand volley-winner. Williams/Williams won the first set 6-3 at 12:47 BST (31m).


Second set
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ZVONARË/VESNINA *_*_*@*_* 6
WILLIAM/WILLIAM _*_*___*_ 3

Elena serving 0-0: Elena played a dynamic point, going to the net behind a deep crosscourt backhand to force a weak backhand lob from Serena, which Elena dispatched with a crosscourt forehand volley-winner. 15/0. Elena joined Vera at the net, but hit a wild crosscourt forehand volley wide. 15/15. Elena hit forehand long, and waved her hand with a look of frustration on her face. 15/30. Vera used the ‘I’ formation to hit a cute off-forehand drop-volley, forcing Venus to net a backhand lob. 30/30. First serve down the middle - on the centre-line - forced Serena to lunge wide and earth a one-handed backhand lob-return. 40/30 (GP #1). With Vera trying the ‘I’ formation again, Venus netted a backhand return. Held.

Tracy Austin: "Vesnina with an interesting grunt: it's like a karate sound: ‘Aya!’"

Venus serving 0-1: Vera intercepted on the fourth stroke to hit an off-forehand volley-winner. Tracy Austin: "A really terrific return from Vesnina - so far in the tramline that it really opened up the court. Terrific angle." 0/15. Huge first serve out wide forced a floater, which Serena dispatched with a high crosscourt forehand volley-winner. 15/15. Venus forehand long. 15/30. In a spectacular point, Elena retrieved Venus's deep crosscourt backhand volley with a half-volley backhand lob; Serena hit a crosscourt forehand smash, which Elena ran outside the tramlines to retrieve with a forehand, but Venus buried it with a high backhand volley-winner crosscourt at a very short, acute angle. 30/30. Elena off-backhand return wide. 40/30 (GP #1). First serve down the middle: Vera hit a makeable off-forehand return long. Held.

Vera serving 1-1: First serve down the middle induced Serena to hit a backhand return long. 15/0. Serena on the fourth stroke hit a crosscourt forehand volley-winner. 15/15. Elena hit a high crosscourt forehand volley onto the sideline: called wide. The Russians challenged it: Hawk-Eye showed that it was wide by about 2% of the breadth of the sideline! 15/30. Serena moved left at the net too early, and Vera was quick to take advantage with a crosscourt forehand winner - she adjusted mid-shot! 30/30. Serena hit a forehand smash at Elena's feet, forcing her to bunt a backhand lob that actually landed behind her. 30/40 (BP #1). Virtual ace: deep first serve down the middle, on the service-line - Venus just brushed it with her racket. Deuce #1. Elena intercepted Serena's crosscourt forehand return to hit a forehand volley-winner that missed Venus by a few centimetres. Ad Vera (GP #1). Serena hit a crosscourt forehand wide, and emitted a cute little squeal. Held.

Serena serving 1-2: Ace down the middle: on the centre-line. 15/0. Ace out wide: on the sideline. 30/0. Ace down the middle. 40/0 (GP #1). Serena tried to serve and volley, but Vera's crosscourt backhand forced her to net a backhand volley. 40/15 (GP #2). Elena on the fourth stroke netted a forehand. Held.

Tracy Austin: "Serena and Venus are on cruise-control; Zvonarëva and Vesnina are at full speed."

Elena serving 2-2: Elena forehand volley long. 0/15. Venus backhand just long. 15/15. Deep first serve out wide forced Venus to stretch wide and hit a forehand return long. 30/15. Serena's body-jamming crosscourt forehand volley forced Vera to earth a backhand volley. 30/30. Serena hit a forehand volley into Vera's body, forcing her to net a forehand volley. 30/40 (BP #1). Venus hit an off-forehand wide, accompanied by a lingering groan. Deuce #1. Serena forced a floater, and dispatched it with a forehand volley-winner. Ad Venus (BP #2). Elena's forehand volley into Venus's body forced Venus to net a forehand volley. Deuce #2. Standing close to her right sideline to serve, Elena hit a terrific second serve out wide - just inside the sideline - forcing Serena to run outside the tramlines and hit a down-the-line forehand return would-be winner that was wide by a whisker. Ad Elena (GP #1). First serve: Venus hit a backhand return-winner down the Russians' right sideline. Deuce #3. Serena crosscourt backhand winner. Ad Venus (BP #3). Elena hit an off-backhand winner plumb on the sideline. Deuce #4. Serena on the fourth stroke sprayed a wild forehand long. Ad Elena (GP #2). In a delightful rally, the Williams sisters made Elena hit a sequence of groundstrokes, her karate-grunt getting ever higher pitched; then Vera took over with a delicate backhand lob; Serena drilled a high backhand drive-volley at Vera's feet, but she picked off an amazing off-backhand half-volley winner onto the sideline! (it was called wide by the line-judge, but the umpire overruled it as good, and awarded the point to the Russians without a replay). Held.

Venus serving 2-3: Elena bisected the Williamses with a backhand winner down the middle. 0/15. Second-serve let... Elena's backhand drop-volley forced Serena to run left (parallel to the net) and bunt a one-handed off-backhand wide. 0/30. Serena netted a forehand. Mark Petchey: "I think they've got into Venus and Serena's heads a little bit - they're not quite sure where to go." 0/40 (BP #1). Vera backhand long. 15/40 (BP #2). Deep first serve down the middle induced Elena to net a forehand return. 30/40 (BP #3). Double fault (second serve into the net). Broken.

Tracy Austin: "Zvonarëva's been very good from the back court, and Vesnina has /moved/ particularly well: covering the middle, intercepting balls, excellent racket-work at the net."

Vera serving 4-2: Ace #1: first serve down the middle, on the centre-line. 15/0. Vera took the initiative with some good deep groundstrokes, and went to hit a backhand volley, but Elena barged in front of her and netted a forehand volley. 15/15. First serve out wide induced Serena to hit a forehand return long. 30/15. Elena used the ‘I’ formation to jump up and hit a crosscourt forehand volley-winner. 40/15 (GP #1). Elena intercepted Serena's crosscourt forehand to hit a forehand volley-winner straight down the middle. Held.

Mark Petchey: "That ‘I’ formation has been very effective against the Williamses today."
Tracy Austin: "It's really disrupting their returns of serve."
Mark Petchey: "They've come out with a strategy, and are executing it well. We saw how well Vesnina moved, but Serena is unsure where to go."
Tracy Austin: "It takes a set to get used to the power of the Williams sisters, but now they've adjusted."

Serena serving 2-5 (new balls): Ace down the middle. 15/0. First serve out wide - deep in the corner - forced Vera to bunt a backhand lob-return wide. 30/0. Elena hit a pinpoint forehand pass-winner down the line: just inside the sideline. 30/15. Serena stepped in to hit an early backhand winner down the line. 40/15 (GP #1). Elena hit a deep crosscourt forehand just inside the sideline, forcing Serena to hit a crosscourt forehand wide. 40/30 (GP #2). First serve + Venus forehand smash + Venus backhand drive-volley winner down the middle. Held.

Elena serving 5-3: Elena's deep crosscourt forehand forced Serena to hit a short lob, which Vera dispatched with an easy crosscourt backhand volley-winner. 15/0. First serve down the middle forced Serena to hit a forehand return long. 30/0. Vera backhand just long. 30/15. Elena ran down a dropshot and hit a nifty little one-handed backhand winner down the line. 40/15 (SP #1 for Zvonarëva/Vesnina). Vera stretched wide to hit a crosscourt forehand volley that landed at Venus's feet, forcing her to hit a forehand half-volley long. Zvonarëva/Vesnina won the second set 6-3 at 13:30 BST (second set 44m, match so far 1h15m).


Third set
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ZVONARË/VESNINA _*@*_*_*_* 6
WILLIAM/WILLIAM *___*_*_*_ 4

Venus serving 0-0: Deep first serve out wide induced Elena to net a forehand return. 15/0. Body-jamming second serve: Vera hit a pinpoint short-angled off-forehand return-winner just inside the outer sideline! 15/15. Ace #7: out wide: just inside the sideline. 30/15. Serena on the third stroke hit a crosscourt backhand volley-winner. 40/15 (GP #1). Ace down the middle. Held.

It's interesting that Elena has served first for the Russians in every set, even though she served last in the second set.

Elena serving 0-1: Vera on the third stroke netted a forehand. 0/15. Serena's backhand volley rushed Vera into hitting an off-forehand wide. 0/30. First serve down the middle: Serena backhand return long. 15/30. Second serve out wide: Venus hit a cheap off-forehand return just long. 30/30. Vera tried to intercept Venus's crosscourt forehand return, but netted a forehand and sank to her knees. 30/40 (BP #1). Ace down the middle. Deuce #1. Deep first serve down the middle + ‘I’ formation induced Venus to hit a forehand long. Ad Elena (GP #1). Serena crosscourt forehand pass-volley winner. Deuce #2. Body-jamming first serve down the middle forced Serena to net a backhand return. Ad Elena (GP #2). Venus backhand return long.

Vera is now using the ‘I’ formation on every first serve of Elena's, the regular formation on the second serve (which lacks the penetration to give her the time to jump up). The Williams sisters are getting increasingly frustrated.

Serena serving 1-1: Vera's lob forced Venus to run backwards and hit a short forehand smash with her back to the net, which sat up nicely for Elena to hit an off-backhand winner just inside the sideline. 0/15. Elena hit a deep crosscourt forehand just inside the baseline, forcing Serena to net a forehand. 0/30. Wide-angled first serve forced Elena to run outside the tramlines and hit a crosscourt forehand return just wide. 15/30. Ace out wide: 106 mph. 30/30. Elena went to the net, and hit a deep backhand volley that forced Serena to net a backhand. 30/40 (BP #1). With the Williams sisters playing on Vera, she worked her team into a commanding position at the net, hit a forehand smash at Venus's feet to force a weak half-volley, which Elena dispatched with a gorgeous short-angled crosscourt forehand drop-volley winner. Broken.

Tracy Austin: "Vesnina plays a lot of doubles, and she's really starting to show her prowess: using all the angles of the court. Zvonarëva not quite as much; she really hits /through/ the court - more of a singles-player."

Vera serving 2-1: Deep first serve down the middle forced Serena to lunge wide and bunt a backhand lob-return wide. 15/0. Elena hit a backhand halfway up the net. 15/15. Venus netted a forehand volley. 30/15. Serena hit a huge crosscourt forehand smash: Elena miraculously picked off a forehand half-volley, but Venus was there to hit a crosscourt backhand volley-winner. 30/30. First serve: Serena hit a deep backhand return-winner that clipped the outside edge of the baseline. 30/40 (BP #1). Elena hit a high forehand volley-winner crosscourt. Deuce #1. First serve out wide forced Serena to net a forehand. Tracy Austin: "That movement from Vesnina at the net distracted Serena, caused the error." Ad Vera (GP #1). Serena on the fourth stroke hit an off-backhand drive-volley winner onto the baseline. Deuce #1. A wonderful rally with both Russians at the net ended with Serena netting a forehand - off a crosscourt forehand from Vera. Ad Vera (GP #2). Elena picked off Venus's crosscourt backhand return to hit a crosscourt backhand volley-winner - accompanied by her by-now-familiar two-tone karate-grunt. Held.

Venus serving 1-3: Vera intercepted Venus's crosscourt forehand to hit an off-forehand volley, but hit it long and wide. 15/0. An amazing rally ended with Serena reaching over the net to hit a crosscourt forehand volley-winner - an illegal shot, but neither the officials nor the Russians appeared to notice. 30/0. Ace out wide. 40/0 (GP #1). Venus served and hit a forehand volley down the middle, but left the whole left half of the court wide open for Vera to hit an early off-forehand winner. Mark Petchey: "Very instinctive tennis from Zvonarëva." 40/15 (GP #2). Ace down the middle. Held.

Elena serving 3-2: First serve down the middle forced Serena to hit a backhand return long. 15/0. Elena netted a backhand under pressure from the Williamses (particularly Serena) at the net. 15/15. First serve down the middle forced a short return; Elena went to the net behind a deep crosscourt forehand, but Serena hit an acute-angled crosscourt forehand low over the net; Elena netted a crosscourt forehand volley and screamed! 15/30. First serve down the middle forced Venus to hit an off-forehand just wide. 30/30. Vera hit a high off-forehand volley-winner. 40/30 (GP #1). Elena netted a backhand volley. Deuce #1. Ace #3 for the Russians: out wide, right in the corner. Ad Elena (GP #2). Vera's presence at the net induced Venus to net a crosscourt backhand. Held.

The commentators claimed that, were the Russians to win this match, it would be an even bigger shock than Tsvetana Pironkova beating Venus in the singles, as the Williams sisters are tipped by many to win a calendar-year Grand Slam this year.

Serena serving 2-4: Serena hit a pinpoint forehand pass-winner down the line. 15/0. Ace down the middle: on the centre-line (it was called wide, but the Williamses made a successful challenge, and the umpire awarded them the point without a replay). 30/0. Service-winner out wide. 40/0 (GP #1). Venus off-backhand winner. Held.

A quick, convincing hold puts the pressure firmly on Vera's shoulders.

Vera serving 4-3 (new balls): First serve down the middle forced Serena to hit a forehand long. 15/0. Vera hit a big first serve out wide (just inside the sideline) + forehand smash + forehand punch-volley; Venus hit a forehand down the middle; Elena's off-forehand volley induced Venus to net a backhand. 30/0. Ace #4 for the Russians: out wide, just inside the sideline. 40/0 (GP #1). Venus forehand just long. Held.

A very impressive hold by Vera!

Venus serving 3-5: Second serve out wide + Serena off-forehand volley-winner down the middle. 15/0. Venus hit a high off-forehand volley-winner. 30/0. Ace #13 for the Williamses: down the middle. 40/0 (GP #1). Elena intercepted Venus's crosscourt backhand to hit a backhand volley down the middle + off-forehand volley-winner. 40/15 (GP #2). Ace #14 for the Williamses: down the middle. Held.

The moment of truth for the Russians, and Elena in particular. What will the reputation of the Williams sisters count for now?

Elena serving 5-4: Deep first serve down the middle forced Serena to net a backhand return. 15/0. First serve down the middle forced Venus to net a forehand return. 30/0. First serve just wide. Elena used up a challenge to show that it was wide by about 15% of the breadth of the sideline. Second serve... Venus off-forehand volley-winner. 30/15. Serena off-backhand winner down the middle. 30/30. Serena hit a crosscourt forehand just wide. Elena shouted "vita". 40/30 (MP #1 for Zvonarëva/Vesnina). Deep first serve out wide forced Venus to net a backhand return. Elena jumped for joy, and the Russians hugged each other with big smiles on their faces. Zvonarëva/Vesnina won 3-6 6-3 6-4 at 14:15 BST (third set 43m, match 1h59m).

Tracy Austin: "What's wonderful about this victory is that it's because they played so well. The Williams sisters did not let them win this match. They /really/ took control midway through the second set. They were more aggressive, changed their strategy a bit, disrupted the Williams sisters, and to be able to sustain it for that length of time - phenomenal."
Mark Petchey: "So often, you just feel as though Venus and Serena are going to overpower their opponents, and that's what it looked like in that first set: the Americans were just too good, too strong, serving too well, but all credit to the Russians. They did find a tactic that worked, and they executed it perfectly. Zvonarëva's tournament continues to get better and better."
Tracy Austin: "It was very high-quality: a lot of power, but also a lot of beautiful angles, touch-shots, long rallies."


Vera and Elena's BBC interview
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This interview took place just after the players left Court 2.

Pam Shriver: "Vera and Elena, such a great win over the Williams sisters, who'd not lost in a Major since last year's French Open. Vera first: how did you do it?"

Vera: "Erm... I don't know. I think I have to thank my partner, Elena: I think she did a great job. We were just trying to hang in there and fight for every point. It /is/ very difficult to beat them - they're a great team. We knew we just had to try to play our best tennis, and I think we did well today."

Pam Shriver: "Elena, you're probably the least-known of the four on the court, but it seemed like you were playing as great a tennis as anybody was on the court. How did you do that?"

Elena: "Thank you very much. Always when you're playing against the Williamses, it's always a challenge, and you always wanna do your best; you wanna show your best tennis. So, today on the court, me and Vera were just trying to fight for every point. I think the key of the match was that we were serving really well for the whole match."

Pam Shriver: "So you both communicated so well together. Vera, talk about the day before a semi-final of Wimbledon, to be able to be out on a doubles-court, three sets, with the confidence of beating the Williams sisters. What does that do for your singles semi-final?"

Vera: "Tomorrow is another day, and I will prepare myself now for my singles. But just a few hours back, I was just getting ready for my doubles-match. I was not thinking about tomorrow; I was just trying to enjoy the moment, and to enjoy that tough challenge. I think that's it. But after I will go back to the locker-room, then I will start thinking about my match tomorrow."

Pam Shriver: "Well, well done. Yesterday Kim Clijsters; today, you two defeated the Williams sisters for the first time all year long. Congratulations."

Elena: "Thank you very much."

Vera: "Thank you."

The BBC don't usually interview doubles-players - not even after the finals - so this victory was certainly regarded as an extraordinary achievement!

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
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