ROME, Italy - Coming into Rome, the clay court season had not exactly gone to plan for Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik. Two tournaments and two opening round defeats left the Russian-Slovene duo badly short of match practice and confidence ahead of the year's second major, Roland Garros.
This was in stark contrast to their form in the opening three months of the year, during which time they had reached the final in five of their six tournaments in tandem.
They are now on the verge of another final after seeing off Jelena Jankovic and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, 62 61, in Friday's quarterfinals in Rome. The players stepped out on court just a few hours after Jankovic's energy-sapping singles encounter with Simona Halep and Petrova and Srebotnik looked a yard quicker throughout.
"We didn't get the best start when I got broken in the first game," Petrova said. "But Jelena had a tough singles match and we knew if we served well and stayed aggressive we could make it difficult for them.
"We have been playing better with every match and it would be a nice feeling to get another title before Paris."
If they are to do that they will first have to take care of Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai. Like Petrova and Srebotnik, Hsieh and Peng have been short of form of late, falling early at their last two events, but they have looked anything but rusty this week, defeating No.4 seeds Liezel Huber and María José Martínez Sánchez in the second round, before booking their last four spot with a 64 64 win over Dominika Cibulkova and Monica Niculescu.