After splitting with Martina Hingis last summer, India’s Sania Mirza combined with Czech Republic’s Barbora Strycova for rest of the 2016 season. But the Indian has announced that she would have a new partner for women’s doubles matches to begin her 2017 season. The Sania-Hingis combo became unbeatable from March 2015. They played together for the first time in the 2015 Indian Wells tournament, where they ended up as title winners. From Indian Wells, they went to Miami Open and repeated the winning performance there as well. After collecting two major titles in two weeks, Sania-Hingis continued their unbeaten show for most of the 2015 season that ended with their victory in the prestigious year-end WTA Finals at Singapore. In social media circuits, the pair acquired the tag of Santina and remained women doubles’ top seeds in every major tournament around that time. In April 2015, Sania became WTA’s top-ranked doubles player and as Santina kept winning, Hingis also began improving on her doubles rankings. In August 2016, however, Sania and Hingis announced their split after a few failures in major tournaments but the exact reason for that decision remained shrouded in mystery. They went their separate ways with Sania pairing with Czech Barbora Strycova and Hingis combining with USA’s Coco Vandenweghe. Sania has announced recently that for the 2017 season, she is returning to the WTA circuit with old friend and former partner, USA’s Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
Sania Mirza of India has just completed her 90th week as the top-ranked women’s doubles player in WTA rankings. 10 weeks ago, Sania’s top ranking had come under threat ahead of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore. Three players came within touching distance to take the honors from Sania. They were the American Mattek-Sands and French women Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic. Mattek-Sands had reached the final with her Czech partner Lucie Safarova and if they had beaten the Russians Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina, Sania would have been unseated. But Makarova/Vesina won the final and Sania retained her world no.1 status in women’s doubles for the second successive year.
For the new tennis season beginning next week, Sania and Strycova will no longer be the partners. Instead, the Indian will play with USA’s Bethanie Mattek-Sands. The two players had a brief partnership in 2012 and together they won the 2012 Brussels Open. But they went their separate ways soon afterwards. They were reunited early in 2013 and won the season opener Brisbane International. However Sania/Mattek-Sands lost in first round of the 2013 Australian Open. In February 2013, Sania and Mattek-Sands also won the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis women’s doubles title. However, the rest of the 2013 season saw Sania playing with different players but still winning 5 WTA titles.
Sania Mirza and Mattek-Sands will begin the 2017 season with the Brisbane International beginning on the New Year Day. The title winners of 2013, Sania/Mattek-Sands are the top seeds at Brisbane ahead of Russians Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina. Sania had also won the 2016 women’s doubles title at Brisbane with Martina Hingis, when the pair was ruling the world in this category. Sania and Hingis were still going great guns, when together, they won the 2016 Australian Open to record their third consecutive Grand Slam victory after Wimbledon and the US Open in 2015. Their association was short but still wildly successful. However, their summer split sent the two players in search of new partners. In an ironic twist to their fairy-tale story, Sania came face to face with Hingis as finals opponent in the 2016 Cincinnati Masters. Playing with Barbora Strycova, Sania won the title by beating Hingis and her new partner Coco Vandeweghe. In tennis, equations of doubles partnerships are quite dynamic and after 4 months with Barbora Strycova, Sania now has another partner in Bethanie Mattek-Sands.