Editor's note: From Monday to Thursday this week, we will look at the road each of the eight singles players and eight doubles took to qualify for this year's WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas.
Season at a glance
In February, Lyudmyla Kichenok drove for 36 straight hours from Kyiv to Chisinau, Moldova, as she fled the Russian invasion of Ukraine with her parents.
Nine months on, she will make her WTA Finals debut after a career-best doubles season. Throughout the year, Kichenok's partner, Jelena Ostapenko, has been an invaluable support.
"Jelena did all she could to make me feel OK," Kichenok told Ukrainian outlet Suspilne in July. "I don't need to explain it to her, she understands what's going on very well."
Before this year, both Kichenok and Ostapenko proved they could win with anyone. Between 2015 and 2021, Kichenok collected five WTA titles with three different partners. Ostapenko, who has endeavored to add to her singles game by committing to doubles ever since her breakthrough as a teenager, lifted four doubles trophies with four different partners between 2017 and 2021.
Kichenok had been one of Ostapenko's irregular teammates throughout that period. The two first paired up to win an ITF W25 in Imola, Italy, in 2013.
But in 2022, they played a full season alongside each other -- 15 tournaments, over double the number in any previous year -- for the first time. They were rewarded with two titles, in Birmingham and Cincinnati. They made their debut in the Top 10 in doubles in August and put together runs to semifinals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
By the numbers
WTA Finals history
No previous appearances in doubles for either. Ostapenko competed in singles in 2017, going out at the round-robin stage.
Kichenok and Ostapenko put together a 10-match winning streak on grass that encompassed the Birmingham title, Eastbourne final (which they conceded via walkover due to an Ostapenko injury) and Wimbledon semifinals, where they were only stopped by eventual champions Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova.