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The Clay Was Not Kind to Huber and Raymond

May 30, 2012

Well, that was a quick stay for the top-seeded pair of Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond at the French Open. The Americans just lost in the first round to Kaia Kanepi and Shuai Zhang in straight sets: 6-3, 7-5.

Kanepi and Zhang are nobody’s idea of doubles specialists, but they were able to pull off the first big upset in any of the doubles draws. For Huber and Raymond, their clay-court season comes to a close—and probably not too soon in their minds.

Their past few tournaments have not gone as planned, especially when compared with the four-tournament winning streak they had only a few months ago. During that run, their wins came under faster conditions, which suits their classic style best.

However, that streak came to an end in their first match in Miami, when Julia Goerges and Samantha Stosur beat them. That match showed them getting pounded off the court against two of the singles game’s heaviest hitters.

That seemed to be a problem for them on the clay this year. Kanepi isn’t exactly a doubles strategist, but one thing she can do is knock the stuffing out the ball. Under slower conditions, more of Huber and Raymond’s opponents are able to take their full cuts at the ball and shock the top-ranked pair.

Now it’s on to the grass-court season for the duo and they’re more likely to get back to their winning ways. Huber and Raymond will be able to keep their foes off balance and whatever power differences they might encounter from their opponents will be offset by their tactics and technique.

The potential for a great grass-court season is solid, and that should wipe away any lingering bad taste from the clay.

(Photo: Getty Images)

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