Doubles Draw a Sparkly Mix in Charleston
By: Joel Drucker
The doubles field at this year’s Volvo Car Open sparkles – a spicy mix of veteran duos, ascending Americans and intriguing pairings.
American Bethanie Mattek-Sands and her longstanding partner, Lucie Safarova, are the top seeds and currently best team in the world. Finalists here a year ago, Mattek-Sands and Safarova began their 2017 in grand style, most notably with a win at the Australian Open. Everything from positive energy to Mattek-Sands’ enterprising game and Safarova’s slick lefty skills make them persistently engaging.
Seeded second is the team of Andrea Hlavackova and Sania Mirza. Mirza in recent years has become a doubles force, her bazooka-like forehand helping her earn three Grand Slam doubles titles in that span. The 30-year-old Hlavackova is also quite skilled in doubles, having earlier this year joined forces with Peng Shuai to reach the finals both at the Australian Open and in Dubai.
But beyond these two accomplished teams, a few notable entrants are looking to advance the cause of the red, white and blue. All-American teams here in Charleston include:
- Alison Riske, now a top 40 player, alongside Jennifer Brady, who in January lit up the court with a surprising run to the round of 16 Down Under
- Charleston’s own Shelby Rogers, paired with Lauren Davis, who kicked off a great ’17 in Auckland by earning her first WTA singles title
- Promising youngsters Asia Muhammad – an extremely nimble doubles player – and versatile lefty, Taylor Townsend
We conclude with two random pairings that pique interest. Doubles stalwarts American Abigail Spears and Slovenian Katarina Srebotnik have between them likely encountered every possible doubles scenario.
And then, a partnership between two past singles champions here - and two of the game’s most dynamic personalities. Former world number one Jelena Jankovic (who took the title here a decade ago in singles) can always be counted on to bring her own special mix of tenacity and small traces of the off-beat. Her partner this week, 2014 singles champion Andrea Petkovic, spends much of her time away from the court reading great novels.
Will their tale be an epic or a short story, drama or comedy? Then again, Jankovic-Petkovic are but one of 16 teams at the Volvo Car Open looking to craft a tale for the ages.
Tennis Channel's Joel Drucker is writing this year for the Volvo Car Open from on site in Charleston.