One of the most successful women’s doubles teams in recent times has parted ways. Martina Hingis has conveyed to her partner Sania Mirza that she will no longer partner her on the WTA Tour, sources close to the Indian star have told journalists.
Reports suggest Hingis will play with Coco Vandeweghe of the United States while Mirza will team up with Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic. The 24-year-old Vandeweghe brings new energy to the partnership and the duo is likely to compete together in the US Open.
For some time, Hingis and Mirza have had differences over their mixed doubles run-ins. Hingis partners Paes in mixed while Mirza plays with Croatian Ivan Dodig. Their last two encounters have been evenly split. While Mirza and Dodig prevailed in the quarters of the Australian Open, Paes and Hingis got their own back by besting them to win the French Open title in a close match.
Sources say Hingis was peeved that Mirza was unhappy after the French loss and that reflected in their interactions. The Swiss player has been pivotal in the recent success of both Mirza and Paes on the doubles tour. Mirza reached the top spot in the rankings after they won the Family Circle Cup last April, becoming the first Indian woman to do so. Paes and Hingis have completed a career Grand Slam in mixed doubles as partners.
Hingis and Mirza are ranked number one in the world of women’s doubles. Both have 10790 points which puts them far ahead of third-placed Caroline Garcia at 6605 points. The Indo-Swiss duo have claimed five titles this year, with the cherry being the Australian Open. That had ensured their berth in the season-ending $7,000,000 WTA finals in Singapore in October but it remains to be seen if the defending champions play together.
The Santina split was confirmed by a source close to Mirza. “Yes, the partnership is over. They have not got the desired results in last five months. You see, they have lost to players outside the top-100 and it reflects that something is wrong. But this is a regular (phenomenon); you can change partners if results are not coming,” the source said.
But it is far from clear what may have led to the end of the partnership. Pairs as successful as Mirza and Hingis hardly split over things such as short-term results. But neither side has formally spoken out on the split which, sources in the Indian tennis team said, had been sought by the former world singles champion.
Hingis has been the pivotal factor in the recent successes of both Mirza and Leander Paes. The unhinging of the Santina combo could well see a major impact on Mirza’s world ranking.
The gutsy Indian, however, does have the tenacity to beat frightful odds. It remains to be seen just how she reinvents herself and whether she is able to retain her top world ranking.