The attention in Miami was focused on the returns of Juan Martin del Potro and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
But two other players, less heralded, also returned to action after even longer absences.
A look at the women’s doubles draw before the tournament began showed a couple of names that haven’t been showing up in draws for quite awhile – Spain’s Maria José Martínez Sánchez and Russia’s Vera Dushevina.
The two paired up, and already they have posted two impressive wins – against No. 3 seeds Abigail Spears and Raquel Kops-Jones, and then against the experienced German pair of Julia Goerges and Anna-Lena Groenefeld.
What’s unusual about this? Well, the first thing is that this is the first time in their long careers that they’ve ever played together. But there’s a lot more.
Dushevina, 28, is a veteran of the tennis wars. Her career bests of No. 31 in singles and No. 27 in doubles came in 2005 and 2007, respectively. She has one WTA singles title and made three other finals, and two doubles titles (and seven other finals).
She helped Canadian Genie Bouchard get to the third round of the doubles at the Australian Open last year – back when she used to do that sort of thing. But Dushevina hadn’t played since losing to Melanie Oudin in the first round of Wimbledon qualifying last June because of an elbow injury.
Martínez Sánchez, 32, has had even better results in singles and doubles. In 2010, she got to No. 19 in singles and No. 4 in doubles, with five WTA singles titles and an impressive 16 doubles titles.
The Spaniard hadn’t played singles since the Acapulco tournament two years ago, and her last doubles match (with Liezel Huber) was a first-round loss at the 2013 French Open.
Injuries, but most of all, Martinez Sanchez became a mom in November, 2013, to daughter Andrea. She married Juan Domingo in July, 2012.
Happy mom! 🙂
— Ricky Martinez (@rickynocanto) March 28, 2015
Hopefully this means good things for both. Martinez Sanchez was such a fun player to watch in singles – a lefty, and perhaps the only serve-and-volleying Spanish female in the history of Spanish tennis-playing females. She even did it on red clay. It was GREAT. But her protected ranking in singles is probably too low to make that a realistic possibility.
Martinez Sanchez definitely will still be remembered by diehards for this little incident in 2009. It made for one of the better Serena Williams press conferences, back in the day.