Hobart: Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza cruised into the women’s doubles final of the Hobart International with her Ukrainian partner Nadiia Kichenok here on Friday. Sania and Kichenok sailed past 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.
The fifth-seeded Indo-Ukrainian combination will lock horns with second seeds Shuai Peng and Shuai Zhang of China. The Chinese pair 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 tiebreaker 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 is returning to the WTA circuit after two years. During her time away from the game, she battled injury breakdowns before taking a formal break in April 2018 to give birth to her son Izhaan.
She is married to Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik. Before the ongoing event, Sania last played at China Open in October 2017. 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.