On Thursday, Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, one of the most successful doubles teams in WTA history, announced they were splitting after five silverware-laden years together.
Despite this seismic shift in the landscape, the doubles world continues to turn, and in Southern California a couple of pretenders to the Italians’ crown booked their place in the final of the BNP Paribas Open.
First through to Saturday’s final were former champions Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, who withstood some early pressure before running out 6-4, 6-1 winners over Klaudia Jans-Ignacik and Andreja Klepac.
"We really played very well today," Makarova said. "We really enjoyed it out there and all the Russian support made it a really nice atmosphere. It was a tough match, even though the score was quite easy, and the support helped a lot."
After Errani and Vinci, Makarova and Vesnina have been one of the most successful partnerships on tour, winning both the French and US Opens together, in addition to their Indian Wells triumph two years ago. These results have helped them qualify for the past two editions of the WTA Finals and they are already eyeing up a return to Singapore.
"We have a lot of goals for the year. Number one we just want to stay healthy, but also the Finals is a big target. We always want to play there and if you do it means you’ve had a great year," Makarova added.
Meeting the Russians in the final are Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza, who managed to avoid the upset bug sweeping around – none of the other three seeds in their half made it beyond the second round.
Hingis and Mirza are playing their first tournament together, but have built up an instant rapport, winning all four of their matches in straight sets. Their semifinal opponents, the reunited Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur, briefly threatened this statistic before they slipped to a 6-0, 6-4 defeat.
"We knew they were a really tough team – they’ve won like 20 titles together – and we needed to be on the ball and we’re happy to come through in straight sets," Mirza said.
While they may not have many matches under their belt, time on the practice court has given the duo plenty of confidence going forward.
"I think it’s great that we can practice together and we’re on the same schedule," Hingis added. "I think we grew throughout this tournament. We know where our strengths and weaknesses are – although tonight I don’t think Sania had any weaknesses tonight! – we’re definitely a team to look out for and it feels good."