Sania Mirza one step away from a triumphant return

The Indian veteran won her semi-final duel at the Hobart International along with doubles partner, Kichenok.

By Rahul Venkat

Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza and her Ukranian partner, Nadiia Kichenok made it to the final of the women's doubles at the Hobart International on Friday.

The pair conquered the challenge posed by Slovenian Tamara Zidansek and Czech Marie Bouzkova in the semi-final in straight sets, winning 7-6, 6-2.

Sania Mirza and Nadiia Kichenok seemed set for a seemingly easy ride when they broke their opponents' serve as early as the fifth game of the opening set. However, they were broken back in the very next game, which made the encounter competitive. 

The teams exchanged games from thereon, leading to a tie-breaker, which the Indo-Ukranian pair won by a four-point margin.The second set followed a similar pattern as Sania Mirza and Nadiia Kichenok broke again in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead.

However, this time round they did not give Tamara Zidansek and Marie Bouzkova any chance, holding all their serves while breaking their opponents' once more to seal a berth in the final.

Sania Mirza and Nadiia Kichenok will be facing Chinese second seeds, Zhang Shuai and Peng Shuai for a chance to win the title tomorrow.

The Chinese pair will be well rested after they got a walkover in the semis with their opponents, the Belgian pair of Alison Van Uytvanck and Kirsten Flipkens, pulling out from the match.

Prajnesh out of Australian Open reckoning

India's only hope of representation in the singles event at the upcoming Australian Open fizzled out as Prajnesh Gunneswaran was beaten, 6-7 (2), 2-6 by Latvian Ernests Gulbis.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran had come back from a set down yesterday and was on course for a positive result in the first set as he took a 4-2 lead early on.

However, Ernests Gulbis won the next three games in a row to go up 5-4 after which the Indian regained some of his composure to draw level again. The set went into a tie-breaker which Gulbis, a former world no.10, ended up winning to take it 7-6.

The second set saw a much more dominating performance by the Latvian as he raced to a 4-0 lead before Gunneswaran managed to win a game. Gulbis though did not allow the Indian a chance to come back this time as he closed out the match quickly.

However, Gunneswaran still has a remote chance of qualifying for the main draw through the 'lucky loser' route, i.e if any player who has already qualified pulls out due to an injury or for other personal reasons.


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