Lyudmyla Kichenok and Jelena Ostapenko continued a stellar season by winning their biggest team title to date at the Western & Southern Open just before midnight on Saturday.
Kichenok and Ostapenko defeated Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Ellen Perez 7-6(5), 6-3 in 1 hour and 24 minutes to capture the WTA 1000 title in Cincinnati. It is their second team title of the year, having also taken the trophy at WTA 250 Birmingham on grass.
"It’s my biggest title and I’m very happy," Kichenok said after the match. "It’s hard to describe, it’s amazing. I just can’t find the words. I’m still a bit shaky after the match, it’s very exciting."
Kichenok and Ostapenko were No.5 on the Race to the Finals Leaderboard coming into Cincinnati, and are projected to rise even further after posting another superb 2022 result.
Along with their Birmingham title, Kichenok and Ostapenko reached additional finals at Dubai and Eastbourne this year. They also made the semifinals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon this season, falling to the eventual champions at both of those majors.
After finally getting on court after numerous rain delays, it was Melichar-Martinez and Perez who initially held the upper hand, breaking Ostapenko in the opening game of the match and building a 4-2 lead. Kichenok and Ostapenko, though, got back on serve at 4-4.
Melichar-Martinez and Perez then garnered two set points at 5-4, but Kichenok and Ostapenko fended those off before a powerful Ostapenko forehand led to another break for 5-5.
In the tiebreak, a strong Ostapenko return gave her team a pair of set points, and Kichenok and Ostapenko converted the second of the two to eke out the one-set lead.
There were no break points through 3-3 in the second set, but after that, Kichenok and Ostapenko stormed to the title, winning the final four games of the match.
"It doesn’t matter what the score is, [the key was] to be aggressive and to put pressure on them," Ostapenko said. "That was a thing they didn’t like, and it helped us in the important moments."
Kichenok of Ukraine is now up to seven Hologic WTA Tour doubles titles in her career. Latvia's Ostapenko, who is also currently inside the Top 20 in singles, has won six career WTA doubles titles.
Despite the loss, Melichar-Martinez of the United States and Australia's Perez have also had a strong summer, reaching back-to-back WTA 1000 finals last week in Toronto and this week in Cincinnati.