Newks 15: Dellacqua doubles up
In the lead up to next week's Newcombe Medal, we review the impressive 2015 seasons of our six finalists. Today we feature doubles dynamo Casey Dellacqua.
Casey Dellacqua proved again in 2015 that she is one of the world’s greatest doubles players.
The West Australian began a fruitful partnership in mid 2015 with Kazakh Yaroslava Shvedova, and the chemistry was instantaneous; the pair won the very first tournament they entered, reached two Grand Slam finals and qualified for the WTA Finals in Singapore.
For her stellar efforts in the tandem game, Dellacqua has been nominated as a finalist for the Newcombe Medal for the fourth time in her career.
“I’m excited to be nominated for the medal again,” she said.
“There have been some great results by all Australian players this year, and it’s an honour to be nominated.”
The second time Dellacqua was nominated for the prestigious award – which recognises Australia’s most outstanding elite tennis player and ambassador for the sport – was in 2013 following another fabulous year on the doubles court; with compatriot Ash Barty, she reached three Grand Slam finals.
She was nominated the following year after her breakthrough singles season, in which she reached the fourth round of both the Australian and US Opens and cracked the world’s top 30.
While her singles results and ranking may have taken a backward step in 2015, she proved her doubles skills were as finely honed as ever.
In her very first event with Shvedova, at the prestigious Mutua Madrid Open in May, they stormed to the title, beating several quality teams along the way. A few weeks later in Paris, they romped through to the Roland Garros final without dropping a set before falling in three to Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova.
A quarterfinal at Wimbledon followed, as did a trip to the final at the Premier event in Cincinnati, where they ultimately went down in two tight sets to the surging Chan sisters of Taiwan.
Cincinnati proved the perfect preparation for the US Open; just a fortnight later, they reached their second major final as a duo in New York. While their French Open campaign was characterised by the relative ease of their victories, it was all about grit and fight at Flushing Meadows – four of their matches extended three sets, but they came through all of them.
In the final, the dominant No.1 pairing of Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza was too strong.
With their strong results having confirmed their place in the eight-team field for Singapore, Dellacqua and Shvedova headed to Asia and reached the semifinals at the China Open in Beijing.
But there, misfortune struck – Dellacqua hit her head after falling in that last match in Beijing, and sustained a concussion. It forced her and Shvedova to withdraw from the glittering season-ending event.
“Unfortunately since my fall in Beijing, where I sustained concussion and whiplash injuries, I have not fully recovered. My health is always my priority,” the Aussie said.
“So now that is my focus, to rest and recover so I am back to feeling 100 per cent soon. Slava (Shvedova) and I have been one of the better doubles teams in the world this year and deserve our spot there, so I can’t explain how upset I am for the both of us that I have to withdraw.
“(Yet) I have felt like 2015 has been a successful year for me. Making the final at both the French and US Opens was great, and it was a huge honour and achievement to qualify for the World Tour Finals in Singapore.”
Throughout her career, Dellacqua has shown a history of being able to rebound from setbacks, including serious shoulder and foot injuries.
Once back to full health, more doubles success seems destined for one of the finest practitioners of the team game.
The Newcombe Medal, Australian Tennis Awards will be held at Melbourne’s Crown Palladium on Monday 23 November. Watch the live stream of the event on Tennis Australia’s YouTube channel.