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American Bethanie Mattek-Sands has advanced to the ladies' doubles semifinals with partner Liezel Huber. In this exclusive blog for USTA.com, she discusses teaming up with her Fed Cup teammate at Wimbledon, their upcoming semifinal match against Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova and the Fed Cup final against Italy in San Diego in November.
Liezel Huber and I beat Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs, 6-4, 6-3, in the quarterfinals and will play another American, Vania King, and her partner, Yaroslava Shvedova, in the semis on Friday.
We are having a blast. I really got to know Liezel during the Fed Cup, and we've played three times together. It's funny because when we were in the middle of our clinching match against Russia's Elena Dementieva and Elena Makarova in the last round, we were up like 5-2, and she leaned over and asked me, “Hey do you want to play some doubles this summer?" Our captain, Mary Joe Fernandez, said, “Can we please focus on this match?” And I said, "Don't worry, we got it, and we did!”
We played Birmingham as our warm-up tournament on grass, and it's been good here. Lisa and Rennae are unpredictable. They can lob, slice short and hit through it, and you have to be ready, as their slices can slide low on grass. They are both accomplished and have way more titles than me, so it was fun.
Liezel and I do really well communicating. Even in the middle points, we call out who is taking which ball. Liezel likes to talk a lot in between points. She's organized and sets things up. We know exactly what we are doing out there.
When you are used to playing with someone else, you tend to cover certain areas of the court, and that's when you tend to clash in the middle, but today was our best effort.
I was playing with Yan Zi, but there was a possibility that Fed Cup was going to be on grass, so Liezel and I wanted to get some tournaments under our belt. The decision was for us to play together as a U.S. team. Yan Zi and I might play together in the future, as we get along great. She and Liezel have totally different personalities. When I play with Yan Zi, I'm the one who is doing more of the talking!
Liezel is going to play with Lindsay Davenport at Stanford and San Diego, so I'm not sure whom I'm going to play during the US Open Series tournaments.
I've played a ton of singles matches this year and qualified a lot. I feel healthier this year, which was the biggest mountain I've climbed. I think I'll be ranked somewhere in the 90s after this tournament, so it will be tough to get a direct entry into the singles during the US Open Series tournaments. That's one of my favorite times of the year. But I'll ask for wild cards, and hopefully they will give some to an American. It's tough because if I do well in doubles, it runs into the singles qualifying at the next tournament.
I'm pumped up for the Fed Cup final in San Diego against Italy. I'm hoping to make the team again, but it will probably depend on whether Venus or Serena Williams decide to play. I've really enjoyed playing for the U.S., and I think the team we've had, with Melanie Oudin, Liezel Huber and myself, have done really well getting to the finals the last two years in a row.
We played King and Shvedova in the Birmingham semis, and they jumped up 4-1 on us in the first set, and then we came back on them pretty strong. They are not to be underestimated. Shvedova has a big serve, big groundies, and Vania is really solid and hits good returns and volleys. We have to play really well if we are going to win.