CARA Black and Anastasia Rodionova are taking no prisoners at the ASB Tennis Classic in Auckland, New Zealand. Wildcards Black of Zimbabwe and her Australian partner Rodionova yesterday swept their way into the doubles finals of the US$235 000 hardcourt tournament after beating Liga Dekmeijere of Latvia and American Megan Moulton-Levy in the semi-finals.
According to reports from Auckland, Black and Rodionova brewed a shocker in yesterday's Day Four of the tournament by upsetting the third-seeded pair of Dekmeijere and Moulton-Levy 6-4, 6-4 to reach the final.
The win set Black and Rodionova a possible final showdown with top seeds Julia Goerges of Germany and Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova.
Goerges and Shvedova are already through to the semi-finals and were awaiting the winners of the quarter-final clash between Jill Craybas of the United States and Elena Danilidou of Greece and the pair of France's Julie Coin and Marie-Eve Pelletier of Canada.
But the day at the ASB Tennis Classic in Auckland yesterday belonged to "comeback kid" Black of Zimbabwe and her Australian partner Rodionova who surprised all and sundry by reaching the final of the doubles despite carrying a wildcard tag.
Black, who is making her return to the Women's Tennis Association Tour after a year out following the birth of her first child, and Rodionova are now strongly tipped to win the doubles title at this season-opening tournament at the weekend.
On their way to the final, Black and Rodionova first beat the pair of Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia and Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer in straight sets 6-2, 6-3 in the opening round on Tuesday.
They then went on to meet Marina Erakovic of New Zealand and Briton Heather Watson in the quarter-finals the following day where they emerged triumphant with a hard-won 6-2, 4-6, 10-5 victory to reach the last four.
And yesterday, Black and Rodionova made nonsense of the formbook by beating the third-seeded pair of Dekmeijere and Moulton-Levy 6-4, 6-4 in the semis to storm into the final.
By reaching the final of the US$235 000 tournament in Auckland, Black and Rodionova are already assured of sharing US$6 000. And if they manage to lift the title at the weekend, they will split US$11 500, which is on the table for the winners of the doubles crown at the ASB Tennis Classic.
After playing in Auckland this weekend, Black and Rodionova are likely to take a one-week breather before they travel to Melbourne, Australia, to compete in the first Grand Slam of the year -- the Australian Open.
The Australian Open is set to run from January 14 to 27.
Black is already a women's doubles title winner at the Australian Open with her victory there coming in 2007 while she was partnering American Liezel Huber.
In fact, the year 2007 saw Black and Huber coming together successfully, winning the 2007 Australian Open and triumphing at Wimbledon.
The team ended that year as the world's number one doubles team, winning the year-end championships over Katarina Srebotnik and Ai Sugiyama 5-7, 6-3, 10-8.
Black and Huber broke up mutually from being exclusive doubles partners in April 2010. Since, Black partnered with Shahar Pe'er, Elena Vesnina, Zi Yan, Lisa Raymond, Daniela Hantuchová, Marina Erakovic and Rodionova.