It has been a great start to the New Year for women doubles WTA champions Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza. The duo completed their 30th consecutive match win and clinched yet another WTA doubles title after their victory in the final of the Apia International at Sydney on Friday. At one stage in the match, the Indo-Swiss combo faced a certain defeat but they pulled themselves out of a hole to turn the tables on their opponents Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic of France. This was also the seventh straight WTA crown for Sania/Hingis. Their next big challenge begins at Melbourne Park, where the year’s first Grand Slam; the Australian Open begins in two days’ time. At Sydney, there was another Indian, who could have stolen the show on Saturday but Rohan Bopanna and his Romanian mate fell at the last hurdle, losing the men’s doubles title to Great Britain’s Jamie Murray and Brazil’s Bruno Soares. Also in a major comeback, Russian Svetlana Kutznetsova won the women’s single crown while the men’s singles title was taken by Serbia’s Viktor Troicki, who defeated Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in three sets.
For the second time in two days, world’s no.1 women’s doubles pair lost the first set and had to rally in the second before taking the match tiebreak. While the situation in the semifinal was not so serious, Sania/Hingis nearly lost in the final when they trailed 1-6, 2-5 against Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic. However, in a miraculous recovery, Sania/Hingis won 5 straight games in the second set to level the set scores and moved on to take the match tiebreak 10-5. In between the rains caused interruption and that probably changed the tempo of the match. Even as Garcia and Mladenovic prepared to serve out for the title, Sania/Hingis showed their grit and drew level on sets. The players went out to wait for the rain to stop. When they came out again for the super tiebreak, the Indo-Swiss pair looked as polished as they had been over the last three months. Serving out for their second trophy of the two-week old new tennis season, they left behind the misery they had faced in the first two sets. It was also the 11th title together for Sania/Hingis in their less than one year’s association. Beginning with Indian wells in March 2015, the pair recorded title victories at Miami, Charleston, Wimbledon, US Open, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Beijing, WTA Finals, Brisbane and now at Sydney.
India’s Rohan Bopanna came close to winning the men’s doubles title with Florin Mergea of Romania. Playing against Britain’s Jamie Murray and Brazil’s Bruno Soares in the final, the Indian/Romanian duo lost the first set but fought hard in the second, which went to the tiebreak. Bopanna/Mergea jumped to a 5-0 lead in the tiebreak and looked like taking the match to the super tiebreak. However, Murray/Soares bounced back to nullify the advantage and clinched the match 6-3, 7-6. It was the first time that Murray/Soares were playing as partners and they have had a good beginning ahead of the upcoming Australian Open.
Svetlana Kuznetsova rolled back the years to produce a masterful performance in the women’s singles final against Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig. The Russian took a mere 55 minutes in the one-sided final and romped home to a 6-0, 6-2 victory. It was Kuznetsova’s first title at Sydney, and 16th overall.
In men’s singles final, which was the last major event of the tournament on Saturday, Serbia’s defending champion Viktor Troicki and Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov were equally matched. Dimitrov looked in command in the first set as raced through to take it 6-2. But the Serb leveled the set scores by winning the second 6-1. They fought hard in the tiebreak and just as the match looked equally poised, Troicki held his balance better to win the tiebreak 8-6 and took the championship with a 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 victory. Troicki also earned the honor of becoming Open era’s fourth player to win back-to-back titles at Sydney.
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