Top-ranked doubles player Sania Mirza and partner Barbora Strycova are through to the semi-finals of the WTA Wuhan Open in China after a straight sets victory over the sixth-seeded Hungarian-Kazakh pair of Timea Babos and Yaroslava Shvedova, which saw the Indo-Czech pair win 6-3, 7-6.
The experienced Indo-Czech pair , who are seeded third at the tournament, took a quick march in the first set, and despite being broken on one occasion in that, put up a solid fight with some significant court coverage to be able to beat their experienced rivals.
The World No. 1 and her partner hit 4 aces in the match, which picked up signficant momentum in the second set – on both sides of the net. As Babos and Shvedova upped their game, Mirza and Strycova fought back to fire missives across the net. They staved off six break points of a possible eight, and were taxed significantly in the fight against their resurgent rivals.
They would manage to pull back for a relatively close tiebreak in the end.
Mirza’s former doubles partner, Martina Hingis, crashed out in the previous round of the tournament. The 29-year-old Mirza, in fine form, continues to hold on to her World No. 1 ranking, which she has held alone since her win at the Western and Southern Open this year in Cincinnati with new partner Strycova.
The Indian, who is known for her aggressive forehand, put it to good use on court today, with the pair covering the court well to combat a fight from the baseline from their Hungarian-azakh competitors.
The two rival teams had played each other once before today’s match, meeting at the quarter-finals of the 2016 Cincinnati Western and Southern Open, which would be the first title together for the two.
Strycova and Mirza added to their title tally last week, winning top honours at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Japan last week with a victory over the unseeded Chinese pair of Chen Liang and Zhaoxuan Yang . Mirza also won another title – at New Haven in Connecticut – with Romania’s Monica Niculescu – in the interim.
Although Hingis is closing in on Mirza in the women's doubles rankings, the Indian has delivered consistently solid performances over the past two years, and despite a split from the Swiss, with whom she shared the top ranking for 31 weeks, her form does not appear to have diminished.
The Grand Slam winner’s performances this year have been systematically indicative of both hard work and consistency, and despite having narrowly missed out on a bronze medal in the mixed doubles at the Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
Already having ended 2015 as the World No. 1, Mirza looks set to repeat the feat this year. She has already qualified for the WTA Tour Finals in Singapore with former partner Martina Hingis, but is now inching closer to a chance to qualify with Strycova as well.
Should the Indo-Czech pair be able to ascend to the top 8 (they are currently at 11th), Mirza will have the opportunity to choose her partner at the year-end event.
The two will now play Hao-Ching Chan and Yung-jan Chan of Chinese Taipei in the semi-finals in a few hours’ time. Mirza and Strycova last played the Chinese Taipei pair at the semi-finals of the Western and Southern Open to set up – and win – a final clash against Martina Hingis and her new partner, Coco Vandeweghe.