World No. 1 Sania Mirza and her Czech partner Barbora Strycova have progressed to the round of 16 at the Wuhan Open in China, defeating the Canadian-Spanish combine of Gabriela Dabrowski and Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez 3-6, 6-3, 10-5.
The third seeded Indo-Czech pair may have been expected to take an easier, straight sets win over their younger rivals, but were made to dig deep to combat their relentless attack.
Canadian Dabrowski, who has partnered Rohan Bopanna in the mixed doubles at the US Open this year, also faced Mirza and Strycova with partner Sanchez at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Japan last week; the two pairs had met at the semi-finals of the event, with a similar result.
Mirza and Strycova were eventual champions at the event, marking their second title together, but fought hard against a relentless attack from Dabrowski and Sanchez, who scalped the first set 6-4, taking the higher-ranked pair to a tiebreak.
The Indian World No. 1 is now in her fourth tournament with new partner Strycova, after having announced her shock split from former No. 1 Martina Hingis earlier this year. The two won a number of titles on the professional circuit in addition to Grand Slams, and ended 2015 as the top-ranked women’s doubles pair.
Following her split from the Swiss ace, Mirza won a title at Cincinnati with Strycova, following that up with top honours in the women’s doubles at New Haven, Connecticut with Romanian Monica Niculescu.
Getting back with Strycova for the Japan tournament, Mirza also won that title with her new Czech partner. The two received a first-round bye here, meaning that their victory will take them to the Round of 16.
Elsewhere, India’s Rohan Bopanna and parnter Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan have progressed to their second-round match at the inaugural Chengdu Open with a straight sets win over Feliciano Lopez of Spain and partner Juan Monaco of Argentina.
Mirza took the World No. 1 title alone after her win at Cincinnati with Strycova after having shared it with Hingis for 31 weeks; now, the Swiss is closing in on her Indian former partner's top rank, only 5 points behind Mirza in the WTA doubles rankings.