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Is the Sania Mirza-Martina Hingis magic wearing off?

11-May-2016 / 8:02 am
Kerala Updates: From winning 41 matches straight across surfaces, Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis are going through a lean patch of sorts. This ‘mini crisis’ has seen them bow out early in three straight hard court tournaments and most recently lose two finals on clay – the surface for the upcoming French Open – the Grand Slam they’re yet to win. Chasing a fourth Grand Slam on the trot, ‘Santina’ have undergone a high followed by multiple lows. We take a look: September 3, 2015 Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis enter the US Open as number 1 seeds having already won Wimbledon a few weeks prior. They are paired with wildcards Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria in the top half of the draw. The Indo-Swiss pairing have little trouble dispatching the Americans, winning 6-1, 6-2. This marks the start of a momentous run – more on that later. September 13, 2015 Facing Casey Dellacqua and Yaroslava Shvedova in the US Open final, MirzaHingis are barely stretched as they win the title 6-3, 6-3 in a little over an hour. In the process, they become the first number one seeds to win the women’s doubles crown since Cara Black and Liezel Huber in 2008. January 29, 2016 Top seeds are through to the final of the Australian Open and are set to face Czech pairing of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka. In a see-saw first set that saw numerous breaks of serves, the Indo-Swiss pairing come out on top in the tie-break. On the fourth Championship point in the second set, the top ranked pairing get the job done to win 7-6, 6-3. This extends their unbeaten streak to 36 matches after winning a total of ten titles in 2015 and starting the new year with wins in Brisbane and Sydney. February 26, 2016 After 41 matches and nine straight titles, their winning streak comes to an end. 5/11/2016 Is the Sania Mirza­Martina Hingis magic wearing off? ‘Santina’ lose 2-6, 6-4, 10-5 to Russian duo Elena Vesnina and Daria Kasatkina in the quarterfinals. If they had won the Qatar event they would have tied Natasha Zvereva of Belarus and Czech Jana Novotna’s 1990 mark of 44 consecutive wins. March 14, 2016 Defending champions start off with a straight sets win on the American hard-courts in the first round. But in the second round they are upset by unseeded duo of Vania King and Alla Kudryavtseva 6-7 (7), 4-6. Bethanie Mattek-Sands and CoCo Vandeweghe go on to lift the title in the Californian desert. March 28, 2016 Fortnight later, the duo shift focus to Miami and once again on the hardcourts but once again they crash out in the second round. This time, another surprising loss, to Margarita Gasparyan and Monica Niculescu 4-6, 2-6. Again, Mattek-Sands wins the title but with a different partner (Lucie Safarova). April 25, 2016 Moving towards the European clay court season, the pairing move past the opening rounds, the hiccup they had been suffering in the previous three tournaments, and make their way into the Stuttgart final. Here they face Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic and lose 6-2, 1-6, 6-10. After a good start, they let go of the command in the match to lose disappointingly. May 7, 2016 A week later, and this time on the clay of Madrid, the Indo-Swiss pairing go through the first four stages with ease – without dropping a set. In the final, they again face Garcia and Mladenovic. And once again, the French pair come out on top and with ease too – 4-6, 4-6. That makes it two weeks, two finals and two finals lost. With French Open a week away, and Rome on-going, the top ranked Mirza and Hingis haven’t won a tournament since St Petersburg Open in the second week of February. But if we take a look at their record on clay in 2015, this year has been an upgrade. Last year the duo reached finals of Charlestone, R16 at Stuttgart, quarters 5/11/2016 Is the Sania Mirza­Martina Hingis magic wearing off? in Madrid and at French Open and final in Rome. It is no secret that clay isn’t Mirza’s favourite surface given the slow nature of the red clay and her choice of sending in thundering forehands from the back when allowed. But in the past weeks, she has been putting in extra work with Robert Ballard to work on her fitness to get ready for the Parisian clay. With three Grand Slams in a row, winning a fourth in a row cannot be ruled out despite the disappointing run. And if there is a pairing which can come good from such a stage, it is that of ‘Santina’. They just need to be wary of the MattekSands/Safarova who have a very good relationship and understanding on the court as well. The hunt for the French Open begins on 16 May.
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