ISTANBUL, Turkey - They were the last team in, and now they're the last team standing - Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova had a dream weekend in Istanbul, defeating the Top 2 teams in the world and winning their biggest WTA title at the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul 2012.
Last Saturday, Kirilenko and Petrova beat Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears in the semifinals of Moscow, a match that would determine who the fourth and final qualifying team for the WTA Championships would be.
But Kirilenko and Petrova were still the last team in and thus the biggest longshot, and it wasn't an easy week, particularly to start, as they were totally outclassed in the first set of their first match against Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, 6-1; but after that they never looked back, taking out the No.1 seeds, 16 63 104, then on Sunday taking out No.2 seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, 61 64, Kirilenko fighting off two break points while serving for the match and the Russians winning it on a return from the Czechs that sailed long.
"I'm very proud - I think we played very solid tennis today," Petrova said in an on-court interview. "We were calm and in control of the game from the beginning, and we didn't lose momentum in the second set. Also, Maria was very brave, holding serve in the last game from two break points down."
"We felt we could dominate the game today - it sounds simple, but really it's quite difficult," Kirilenko said. "We're happy to win another title together."
Kirilenko and Petrova now have four WTA doubles titles together, having won Cincinnati in 2008, Moscow in 2009 and Miami this year. Individually, Kirilenko now has 12 WTA doubles titles, Petrova 21 - and this was Petrova's second WTA Championships title, having won with Meghann Shaughnessy in 2004.
"Our goal this season was just to play the Olympics and win a medal, and we achieved that, and now we're here winning this title," Petrova said. "It's a great way to finish off the doubles season. We have had such a great year."
"It was so difficult to qualify for this tournament - we only did it last week in Moscow - so to be the last team in and win it is just great," Kirilenko added. "We had a great tournament here and this is an amazing feeling."
Hlavackova and Hradecka were playing their 15th WTA doubles final together and are now 9-6 in those - but while they didn't take the title, they had already won four this year (Auckland, Memphis, Cincinnati and Luxembourg), and had also made big, big finals at Wimbledon, the Olympics and US Open.
The Czechs were proud of their performance despite falling in the final. "We set a goal at the beginning of the season to be here," Hlavackova said. "We had some great results all year and when we qualified after the US Open we were so happy to be part of this big WTA event. It has been a great week."