Making a comeback to the court after two years, Sania Mirza progressed into the women’s doubles final of the Hobart International with her Ukrainian partner Nadiia Kichenok on Friday (January 17).
The Indian tennis ace and her partner defeated the Slovenian-Czech pair of Tamara Zidansek and Marie Bouzkova 7-6 (3) 6-2 in the semifinal contest that lasted one hour and 24 minutes.
In the final bid, the fifth-seeded Indo-Ukrainian combination will lock horns with second seeds Shuai Peng and Shuai Zhang of China who got a walkover after Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens and Alison Van Uytvanck conceded the other semifinal match because of injury.
While Sania and Kichenok had to fight hard in the opening set, the second set was a cakewalk for the combination.
The first set was a tough contest between the two pairs, bringing the tie-breaker into the equation after it was level at 6-6.
In the tie-breaker, Sania and Kichenok upped their game by a few notches to outsmart their opponents and take the lead.
The second set was a no-contest as Saina and Kichenok broke their opponents thrice — in the second, sixth and eighth game — to easily pocket the set and a place in the summit clash.
Saina and Kichenok got 11 break chances out of which they converted four, while their opponents utilised two out of the five break chances that came their way.
The 33-year-old Sania, who last played at China Open in 2017, is returning to the WTA circuit after battling injury breakdowns before taking a formal break in April 2018 to give birth to her son Izhaan.
A trailblazer in Indian tennis, Sania is a former world No.1 in doubles and has six Grand Slam titles to her credit.
She retired from the singles competition in 2013 after becoming the most successful Indian woman tennis player.
(With inputs from agencies)