Nadiia Kichenok and former doubles No.1 Sania Mirza are just one win away from claiming their first WTA doubles title as a team.
Remarkably, the first time the pair played together was in their opening round doubles match earlier this week, with Mirza only returning to the WTA tour in Hobart after a two-year hiatus in which she had a son.
The duo defeated Marie Bouzkova and Timara Zidansek in their semifinal on Friday and will face second-seeded Chinese duo Peng Shuai and Zhang Shuai in Saturday’s Hobart International final, with the latter to back up after her singles final against Elena Rybakina.
They’ve defeated Marie Bouzkova and Timara Zidansek 7-6 6-2 on centre court 💪 pic.twitter.com/PybifhNgxF
— Hobart International (@HobartTennis) January 17, 2020
Kichenok put Friday’s win 7-6 6-2 win down to a joint decision to play an attacking brand of tennis after a tight first set.
“We started more aggressively in the second set because we understood it was lacking in the first set,’ the Ukrainian said.
“We really had to be quick on our legs.”
Three-time Grand Slam doubles winner Mirza agreed.
“I think that’s how we need to play and that’s when we’re at our best.”
Despite her accolades, which include winning the Australian Open doubles title in 2016 following a successful 2015 Wimbledon and US Open doubles titles, Mirza sees herself and Kichenok as playing above expectations, given their recent pairing.
“We’re playing against people who are meant to win against us,” she said.
“They (Peng and Zhang) are great players, individually and together, and I’m really looking forward to playing our first final against them.
Kichenok and Mirza are hoping that the fans will rally behind them on Saturday.
“It’s always nice to play in front of a crowd, so it was nice that centre court was almost full today,” Mirza said.
“People love their tennis here in Australia and in Hobart, so that’s why we thanked the crowd.”
“It’s important for them to be involved as well, because they give you energy in tough moments.”
Peng Shuai and Zhang Shuai advance to Saturday’s final via walkover due to Kirsten Flipkens and Alison Van Uytvanck withdrawing due to the latter citing viral illness.
The doubles final will commence following the conclusion of the singles final, which is scheduled for 1:00pm.
Tickets for the Hobart International final are on sale now via Ticketmaster.
Prices start from $45 for adults and entry is free for children with a paying adult across the entire event, including finals.