Czechs Win Stuttgart, 10th WTA Title Together
Czechs Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova made it a week to remember at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, winning their first WTA doubles title of the year and their 10th overall together.
Seeded No.5, Benesova and Zahlavova Strycova didn't drop a set all week and continued that pattern in the final against Germans Julia Goerges and Anna-Lena Groenefeld, though it wasn't easy - they trailed 3-1 in the first set and 5-2 in the second set - but they came back in both sets to prevail, 64 75.
"This is a big tournament to win as the field was strong, so we're very happy about it," Benesova said. "We've had a great year so far, building on the four titles we won last year, reaching the semifinals of Indian Wells and now this. We'll continue the partnership and our focus is the Grand Slams, for sure."
"The week we had was amazing," Zahlavova Strycova said. "The tournament is incredible and they take care of us so much. We can't thank the organizers enough for what they do for us. We had a really nice week here in Stuttgart."
Benesova and Zahlavova Strycova's previous nine WTA doubles titles have been spread out over the last few years, one in 2008 (Stockholm), one in 2009 (Luxembourg), three in 2010 (Paris [Indoors], Monterrey, Tokyo [Pan Pacific]) and four in 2011 (Sydney, Monterrey, Barcelona and Luxembourg).
Goerges and Groenefeld had a great week too, taking out two seeded teams along the way - including No.1 seeds Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik in the semifinals. In the end it was their third WTA doubles final together, having won the Copenhagen title in 2010 and lost in the final of Linz last year.
"We couldn't take advantage of having 5-2 in the second set today, but it was a good doubles match and we had a great week," Goerges said. "The crowd showed big respect for the players by coming out in such big numbers to watch the doubles final and to support us. It was nice to see all the people coming."
"We played pretty good tennis this week, particularly when we beat the top seeds in the previous round," Groenefeld said. "We had chances in the second set today - we had some close games but couldn't close it out. Sometimes it just happens like that. But it was a great week and nice to be in the final.
"Playing in front of our home crowd was amazing. It was three hours before the singles final and we had almost a full house. We really appreciate all the people coming to watch us - that's why so many players enjoy playing here."
Groenefeld is playing her first season as a doubles specialist - a former Top 20 player in singles, she stopped the individual game at the end of 2011.
"At the end of last year I wasn't happy on court in my singles, and I thought I should do something with my life that makes me happy, so I decided it was time to just play doubles," Groenefeld explained. "Right now I'm really happy with that decision. It has worked out well so far. I'm not so stressed out and I feel within myself. I'm so much happier, which is the most important thing."
This was Groenefeld's second Premier-level final since making the change - she also made the final of Paris [Indoors] this year with Croatia's Petra Martic.
Goerges and Groenefeld had a blast at the only German stop on the WTA.
"It's always fun playing doubles with Anna-Lena and I'm really looking forward to playing more doubles with her," Goerges declared. "My doubles is getting much better. I just love this game because it also helps my singles game."
"It's always fun when we Julia and I play together," Groenefeld said. "She's a great player and hopefully we'll have more successful weeks like this."