Sania-Kichenok pair enters Hobart International final

Strong comeback
Sania Mirza has returned to WTA circuit after two years. File photo: AFP
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Hobart: Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza entered the women's doubles final of the WTA Hobart International with her Ukrainian partner Nadiia Kichenok here on Friday.

Sania and Kichenok got the better of the Slovenian-Czech pair of Tamara Zidansek and Marie Bouzkova 7-6 (3), 6-2 in a semifinal contest that lasted an hour and 24 minutes.

The fifth-seeded combination will lock horns with second seeds Shuai Peng and Shuai Zhang of China in the final.

The Chinese pair got a walkover after Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens and Alison Van Uytvanck conceded the other semifinal because of injury.

While Sania and Kichenok had to fight hard in the opening set, the second set was a cakewalk.

The first set was an even 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 outsmarted their opponents to 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 points out of which they converted four, while their opponents utilised two out of the five break points that came their way.

The 33-year-old Sania is returning to 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.

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