CINCINNATI, OH, USA - Some doubles partnerships click straight away, while others take a little longer to find that magic spark. Katarina Srebotnik and Zheng Jie, it is safe to say, fall firmly into the former category.
On Sunday afternoon, five days after teaming up for the first time, Srebotnik and Zheng will contest the final of the Western & Southern Open. Standing on the opposite side of the court will be a team at the other end of the experience spectrum.
Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, the No.5 seeds and their opponents in the final, played their first match together nearly five years ago and since then have established themselves as one of the most formidable teams on tour.
This reputation has been enhanced considerably in recent months by back-to-back runner-up finishes at Wimbledon and the Olympics, and after seeing off Darija Jurak and Katalin Marosi, 64 36 108, in their semifinal on Friday now have the chance to go one better in Cincinnati.
However, if they are to do so, the Czechs will need to up their level against Srebotnik and Zheng, who delivered a polished performance in their semifinal.
Taking on No.6 seeds Nuria Llagostera Vives and María José Martínez Sánchez, Srebotnik and Zheng overcame stuttering starts in both sets to finish with a flourish, reeling off the final six games of the match to wrap up a 64 63 win.