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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Sania Mirza completes dream comeback with doubles title in Hobart

Sania Mirza, paired with Ukraine's Nadiia Kichenok, pipped the second-seeded Chinese team of Shuai Peng and Shuai Zhang by 6-4, 6-4 in the Hobart International doubles final.

By: Sports Desk | Updated: January 18, 2020 1:37:15 pm
Sania Mirza and Nadiia Kichenok with their trophies. (Source: WTA)

Sania Mirza scripted the perfect return to tennis as she lifted the WTA Hobart International trophy with Ukrainian doubles partner Nadiia Kichenok after edging out the second-seeded Chinese team of Shuai Peng and Shuai Zhang in the final in Hobart on Saturday.

The unseeded Indo-Ukrainian pair pipped their formidable opponents by 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 21 minutes.

Coming back into action after two years, the 33-year-old showed she’s still got it to her doubters and also her son Izhaan, who was with her in the court by winning her 42 WTA doubles title. Sania didn’t compete on the WTA circuit in 2018 and 2019 seasons, as she took some time away to settle her family with Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik.

With the Australian Open starting on Monday, Sania went through her paces in Hobart properly to prepare for a third Grand Slam win in Melbourne — one in doubles in 2016, another in mixed doubles in 2009.

Sania and Nadiia began by breaking the Chinese players in the very first game of the match but only to drop serve in the next.

The two pairs played close games towards the end and at 4-4, 40-all, Sania and Nadiia got the crucial break, earning the opportunity to serve out the set.

There was no twist in the 10th game with Sania and Nadiia comfortably pocketing the first set. The second set could not have started better for them as they broke the Chinese rivals to take early lead and consolidated the break with an easy hold.

The game of the Chinese was falling apart as they dropped serve again in the third but broke back immediately to repair some damage.

Sania and Nadiia were now feeling the heat at 0-30 in the sixth game but Peng and Zhang let them hold serve for a 4-2 lead. The Chinese though kept fighting and made it 4-4 with another break in the eighth game.

The Indo-Ukraine team raised its game when it mattered as it broke Peng and Zhang for one final time in the ninth and served out the match in the next game.

READ | Prajnesh enters Australian Open main draw as ‘lucky loser’

Sania and Nadiia split USD 13580 as prize money and earned 280 ranking points each for their winning effort.

On the other hand, rising Kazakh talent Elena Rybakina overcame a gulf in experience to beat China’s Zhang Shuai 7-6(7), 6-3 in the singles final on Saturday and claim her second WTA title.

(with PTI inputs)

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