In the 2016 French Open, India’s Sania Mirza and Switzerland’s Martina Hingis couldn’t progress beyond the third round. The pair had won the Wimbledon and the US Open in 2015 and began the year as the Australian Open champions. But their hopes of holding all four Grand Slam titles were shattered with a third-round loss against Czech Republic’s Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova. At Paris, Sania and Hingis also competed in mixed doubles, where Sania played with Croat Ivan Dodig while Hingis had India’s Leander Paes as the partner. It is said that Hingis was peeved at the way Sania reacted to her mixed doubles loss in the final against the Swiss and the Indian. The two women got into some interactions but continued to play for two more months, losing early in the next three tournaments. Then in a surprising move last fortnight, Hingis conveyed to Sania that she would no longer be partnering her on the WTA tour, except perhaps at the season-ending WTA finals in Singapore in October 2016. Both Sania and Hingis have 10790 points each and the third-place Caroline Garcia is way behind at 6605. This ensured that Sania and Hingis go to the WTA finals unchallenged.

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza  Australian Open 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza Australian Open 2016

Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis announced their split last fortnight. The pair had a wonderful time in 2015. They reached the no.1 ranking in women’s doubles and became virtually unbeatable. Those trophy-laden 16 months included 11 WTA title, 3 Grand Slams and a long unbeaten streak of an incredible 41-match victories. That suffered a jolt in February this year at Doha, where the pair lost to Russians Elena Vesnina and Daria Kasatkina. But one odd loss couldn’t have separated them. They had a mission together to win the fourth consecutive Grand Slam tournament as they went to the Roland Garros for the 2016 French Open. Something happened at Paris, which not many people know. Veteran tennis star of yester years, Jaidip Mukerjea, who writes in the Kolkata daily The Ananda Bazar Patrika, advanced a theory for the Sania-Hingis break-up. As per Jaidip, the main reason for the split was escalation of differences between Sania and Hingis due to their mixed doubles partners. Sania plays with Croatia’s Ivan Dodig while Hingis’ partner is India’s Leander Paes. While Sania/Dodig won against Hingis/Paes earlier in 2016, the Indo-Swiss pair extracted their revenge in the French Open final. Sania’s reaction to the loss was unacceptable to Hingis and the rift between them widened. Sania’s dislike for Paes had been well-known and for the Rio Olympics she chose Rohan Bopanna as her mixed doubles partner. Her bad feelings towards Paes were revealed in the final at the Roland Garros and Hingis found it strange.

Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis

Whether that was the real reason for their split or not, the performance of the top women’s doubles pair suffered after the French Open and the titles dried up for the social media’s Santina. They began their downward climb from the pinnacle of glory and lost even to doubles pairs ranked outside the top 100. It clearly indicated that all was not well between the two, who had looked unstoppable just the other day. After the French Open, Sania/Hingis lost at the Aegon International Eastbourne to the Croat/Australian pair of Darija Jurak/Anastasia Rodionova; exited Wimbledon after losing to Hungarian/Kazakh pair of Timea Babos/Yaroslava Shevdova and their Rogers Cup campaign ended in late July after they were defeated by USA’s Christina McHale/Asia Muhammad.

Confirmation about their split came in the second week of August 2016 with Hingis informing Sania that she will not be partnering the Indian henceforth. Rio Games were in progress and Hingis went on to win the silver for Switzerland in women’s doubles with Timea Bacsinszky. In the recently concluded Cincinnati Masters, Sania Mirza and her new Czech partner Barbora Strycova defeated Martina Hingis and USA’s Coco Vandeweghe in the title match. The two new pairs will also play in the year’s last Grand Slam, the US Open, which begins in New York next week.