Teams considered to be the best in the world by the Laureus Academy over the past decade have included FC Barcelona, the European Ryder Cup team and China’s Olympic squad.
But you would be hard pushed to find a more dominant team in world sport right now than the women’s doubles partnership of China’s Peng Shuai and Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei. In winning the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells last weekend, the pair moved to 11-0 in finals. I’ve searched high and low to find some comparable dominance – in tennis and elsewhere – and I’m still looking.
Both Peng and Hsieh are human: when they play with other partners, they have 4-3 and 5-5 records in finals respectively; but when they play with each other – as they do almost exclusively these days – they are unbeatable. Of course, to win a final, you first have to reach the final, but having becoming the number 1 pairing in the world earlier this year, that doesn’t usually pose much of a problem either.
Doubles will never be as popular as singles – despite being a much more entertaining spectator sport – but this streak is starting to bring the pair an increasing amount of attention, to the obvious delight of their sponsors.
Peng has previously sported Nike and Adidas clothing, but now is hardly ever seen without Li Ning’s twisted swoosh adorning at least some part of her body. She’s also sponsored by Mercedes, one of Li Na’s many endorsers.
Hsieh, meanwhile, has also done the rounds with Nike and 361, among others, but is now most associated with a brand altogether less sporty. In what was perhaps a clever marketing ploy shortly after winning last year’s Wimbledon doubles title with Peng, Hsieh hinted that she might be forced to defect to the mainland due to the conditional lure of a Chinese sponsor’s cash. But no sooner was the story out than Taiwan Beer stumped up the necessary money and the island held on to one of their own.
If they can keep this run going – and pick up some more Grand Slam titles along the way – their endorsement prices will likely rocket.