30 straight wins, unbeaten since August last year, 11 titles, the world No 1 spot — it’s been a dream run for Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis.
The Indo-Swiss duo came together just before the Indian Wells tournament last year and have been simply unstoppable since.
What works for the combination is their perfect chemistry. With Sania’s booming forehands and Swiss Miss Hingis’ court coverage and solid groundstrokes, ‘SanTina’ has taken the women’s doubles world by storm. As former India Davis Cup captain Naresh Kumar puts it, “they are the perfect combination”.
“In a good doubles combination, you need one solid player who puts everything away and you need the other to be the opportunist. In the Leander Paes-Mahesh Bhupathi combine, Bhupathi was the solid anchor while Paes could intercept and throw up surprise elements. In the Sania-Martina combination, Sania’s strokes combine with Hingis as a solid anchor who never misses anything, they’ve simply been outstanding,” Kumar feels.
Former Indian Davis Cup captain Jaidip Mukerjea echoes the sentiment. “It’s not easy to win 30 straight matches at that level. It’s been incredible for the duo. They are going strong and are the favourites at Melbourne,” he says.
For a good partnership to bloom, one needs to be friends. And the friendship between the 29-year-old Indian and 35-year-old Swiss has helped them blossom on court. In the beginning, they had just hoped their partnership would work but as they won their maiden tournament at Indian Wells, they figured they had hit the jackpot.
After winning Wimbledon, the Indo-Swiss combine’s last loss came in Cincinnati in August. Since then, they’ve been on the winning juggernaut, collecting trophies like travel enthusiasts collect souvenirs. The US Open, WTA Finals were added, as were three titles in China.
The 2016 season began with a bang as well with two back-to-back titles in Brisbane and Sydney. It’s no wonder that all eyes are on the top seeds to clinch their third Grand Slam on the trot in Melbourne. The 30-match winning streak is the longest since 1990 as they open their campaign against unseeded Colombia’s Mariana Duque-Marino and Teliana Pereira of Brazil.
While Sania had refused to part with her No 1. ranking in doubles since last year, her partner joined her as the co-numero uno player just before the start of the Australian Open. Now, not only are they the best team but also the best doubles players individually.
For the record, Hingis had earlier spent 35 weeks on top of the doubles ranking in six stints. Now as she begins the 36th week, Sania is on her 41st. For the statistically minded, they are the 11th co-World No 1s in WTA’s doubles rankings history.
“Being the No.1 team for the last 10 months — we’ve proven it with two Slams and the WTA Finals in Singapore — we definitely belong there. It was just a question of time to get that No.1 ranking,” Hingis had said. “It’s about choosing the right partner,” Hingis added.