Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Metamorphosis

Arya Sekhar Chakraborty analyses the chemistry behind success of the Mirza-Hingis combination 

Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis are turning into quite a renaissance act, perhaps even the very best in the recent past. Winning two grand slams in a quick succession is a huge achievement for the Indo-Swiss duo and the remainder of the season is about icing an already substantial cake.
 
Only a few years ago neither of the indomitable duo was really painting the charts anywhere on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). The Indian ace was succumbing to her bruised body and often wondered if it was even worth sustaining her falling career. A wrist surgery in 2010 and her subsequent marriage left Mirza hardly playing tennis for the next six months.
 
Meanwhile, the Swiss former singles No 1 Martina Hingis was happy travelling the world and keeping herself engaged in some minor league team tennis to keep herself occupied in an on and off retirement circle.  But her adrenalin glands were overflowing again and being on the sidelines was beginning to constantly gnaw her less than satiated soul. Keeping her age and physical attributes in mind the only realistic chance of her coming back rested on playing doubles.

A moment of joy 
Mirza made a tough and inspired decision in the summer of 2012 to abandon her singles aspirations in favour of prolonging her career. Even though she had a decent run on the tour with Bethanie-Mattek-Sands (2013) and Cara Black (2014) it was only in the mixed doubles category that she tasted a grand slam glory. Mirza and Black decided to put an end to their partnership as the Indian decided to play in 2015 with Taipei’s Su-Wei Hsieh. Hingis on the other hand was in a dilemma in making a forceful decision about her commitment to tennis. Hingis was dabbling in with a multitude of partners– Sabina Lisicki and Flavia Pennetta being her main collaborators. But her success with Leander Paes at the Australian Open combined with some poor results for Mirza-Hsieh seemed to have colluded to create a combination which was threatening to take the Women’s doubles to a whole new level. The split of Mirza and Hsieh came at a crucial moment on the world tennis calendar.
 
Mirza and Hingis came together this March only and since then it has been a relatively roller coaster ride for the Indo-Swiss combination. The results were very immediate and forceful. They defeated the seasoned combination of Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in back to back events and it was signal of the inevitable which was about to come. Mirza’s power from the back court and Hingis’s finesse at the net were turning into an irresistible potion for their opponents. When they arrived at the Wimbledon, they were already winners of three major tournaments and were finalists in Rome. Though they unexpectedly lost in the quarter finals at the French Open the duo was in no mood to give up and was hungry for more as they transported their crafts and tools to the English meadows.
 
The final in London when the duo locked horns with Makarova and Vesnina again, it showed their immense commitment to their partnership and their own second coming. They survived a Makarova service game at 3-5 in the final set to clinch a nail biting 5-7, 7-6, 7-5 victory.

Wimbledon victory
The most important thing which differentiated the duo from other pairs was that they were particularly aware of each other’s game and also their limitations and they stuck to their strengths. Mirza can mount her beastly assault from the chosen deuce court, whereas Hingis is reasonably happy producing instinctive brilliance off the advantage court. They complemented each other’s game tremendously. Hingis’s guile with the volley and a strong back hand were ideally complementing the ferocious forehand of Mirza. The Indian also mentioned in an interview that they try helping out each other when one of them is struggling and they formed a very dominant force within a very short time.
 
Victory at the Wimbledon meant that Hingis-Mirza duo was unshakable and they carried their rich vein of form across the Atlantic in the US Open. As they bludgeoned their way through the draw, they faced their stiffest challenge in the quarters.
 
Being 0-5 down in the first set, Hingis and Mirza won 13 of the remaining 15 games to pummel the Chan sisters into submission. In the seventy minutes finale they lost just six games to Casey Dellecqua and Yaroslava Shvedova. The fourth seeded pair succumbed against the No1 pair as they marched to their second straight Grand Slam title without losing a single set. Losing just 26 games throughout the tournament was also a record. The Mirza-Hingis combination continued their superb run as the duo clinched its 7th title together by winning the Wuhan Open Women’s doubles trophy on 2nd Oct. The top seeded pair eased past the Romanian team of Irina-Camelia Begu and Monica Niculescu 6-2, 6-3 in the title clash. 

The tennis world has not seen such a dominant force in the recent memory and they seem eager to carry it forward and decorate their partnership with unabated success. Mirza and Hingis are expected to continue their rich vein of form and go on creating history in the coming future.


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The writers is a freelance contributor.Comments personal