Sania Mirza and Nadiia Kichenok are the Hobart International doubles champions for 2020 after partnering to defeat No.2 seeds Peng Shuai and Zhang Shuai 6-4 6-4 in the final.
Down 3-4 in the opening set, the duo won the next three games to take the set and then another three straight in the second, before the Chinese pair fought back to level the score at 4-4.
Up 5-4, Kichenok held her nerve to serve out the match and see the pair claim their first doubles title together in just their fourth match as partners.
In her WTA tournament return after a two-year hiatus, Mirza was understandably pleased post-match.
“It’s always great to win a tournament, and under the circumstances that we won I think it’s even better,” she said.
“We were playing (together) for the first time, me coming back after almost two and a half years, post (having) a baby; so we probably didn’t expect to win.”
Mirza was quick to zero in on her Kichenok’s service game as a defining factor in their win, believing that their respective strengths serve to complement their overall game.
“I think how partnerships work, you have to give each other that confidence and give each other that positive energy,” she said.
“I think that she was serving really well and was giving me a lot of opportunities to help her out at the net and get involved.”
Kichenok was quick to return the praise.
“She (Mirza) hasn’t missed anything, I’m telling you,” the doubles No.34 said.
“She came to the first practice and she was hitting unbelievable.”
Straight sets win 🤩
— WTA (@WTA) January 18, 2020
Mirza hopes that her success after taking time away from tennis will serve as a motivator for other female athletes.
“I feel that hopefully this may inspire a few more women or girls to do this after having kids,” she said.
Looking ahead to the Australian Open next week, the former doubles No.1 doesn’t believe that going in unseeded will hinder the pair’s chances in the doubles.
“Today we played against one of the best teams in the world in the final, and this obviously shows us that we have the level to compete against them.”
“There’s nothing to be scared of.”