Last year, toward the end of the season, Cara Black told Rennae Stubbs she wanted to break up their doubles team and return to playing with her long-time partner, Liezel Huber. Word has it that this news did not go over too well with Stubbs, and even if that information is incorrect, breaking up such a partnership could not have been easy. But nevertheless, they headed to the Sony Ericsson Year-End Championships in 2006, where they performed as a well-oiled team with total professionalism; they lost in the final to Lisa Raymond and Sam Stosur.
During the Versus Channel's coverage of this year's tournament in Madrid, Barry McKay commented that the so-called drama of many doubles teams changes in the WTA "makes the ATP players look like angels." First of all, ATP players change teams quite a bit. Second, players change partners for many reasons that have nothing at all to do with "drama." Stosur left Bryanne Stewart because Raymond issued her an invitation that no one in her right mind would refuse, and Stewart (Stosur's best friend) let go with her blessing. Ai Sugiyama had to find another partner because--after her terrible wrist injury--Kim Clijsters no longer wanted to play both singles and doubles. Lindsay Davenport and Corina Morariu stopped playing together because Davenport wanted to play only a few doubles tournaments, and Morariu--a doubles specialist--has to play a lot of them.
Fast forward to today, the opening of the ATP Masters' Tournament in Shanghai. Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor, the number one doubles seeds because the Bryan Brothers had to withdraw, have decided to part ways after many years of playing together. Here is how they handled the situation: They not only hardly spoke to one another on the court--they barely looked at one another. Eventually, they began to communicate and even won the match, but as round robin play continues, they are going to have to figure out a way to be, well--less emotional. Doubles partners who do not speak to each other have a hard time winning.
I did not get to see the entire match, but during the time I watched, no one on The Tennis Channel said anything about drama. But those ATP players really know how to stir it up, don't they?