All good things come to an end; not just in life, even on the tennis court. The numero uno pair of Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis, lovingly called Santina, that regaled tennis aficionados with some mesmerizing performances for more than a year, has decided to go separate ways.
No partnerships last forever, no matter how devastating they looked during their heyday or how effective their weapons might have been. Had it been so, one of the most dominant duos in modern tennis – Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani would have still taken the court alongside each other.
The Italian greats, who completed a coveted Career Slam, unbelievably dropped a bombshell on their fans by announcing their split in 2015, passing the mantle on to Hingis and Mirza. The Indo-Swiss pair took it up from there and helped popularize women’s doubles even further with their stroke play and sizzling chemistry.
But now it’s time to pass on that baton to another team. With the reunion of the Williams sisters, which culminated in their 14th Major title at Wimbledon, it won’t be surprising to see them rule the doubles circuit yet again, although they crashed out of the Olympics this year.
What led to the split?
According to a report in the Hindustan Times, sources have conjectured that there had been differences between the two which never came out in the open.
The two faced off in the mixed doubles final at the French Open this year, where Hingis and Leander Paes reigned supreme in a tight clash over the duo of Mirza and Ivan Dodig. It has been learnt that the Indian had voiced her disappointment over the los, which might have been the beginning of the rift.
Even ex-Davis Cup captain Jaidip Mukerjea, in his column for the Ananda Bazar Patrika, had pointed it out as the primary reason for such a decision.
With mutual understanding being a prime requisite for any team’s success, any such discord might have acted as the death knell. Their results on the court following the claycourt Major clearly reflected that something was amiss. They failed to reach even the semi-finals of their next four tournaments before terminating their professional relationship.
Having won a staggering 14 titles in a span of just 14 months that included three Slams, it would always have been a challenge for the pair to follow it up. Since their 41-match winning streak came to an end at Doha in February, the spark in their partnership had somewhat gone missing. There were more losses than wins that might have made a dent in their confidence as well.
Following this year’s Australian Open win, they emerged victorious in just two out of the 12 tournaments that they entered in. That pales in comparison to their success in 9 out of the 16 events that they participated in last year.
With the pressure to do a repeat act already mounting, a crack in their relationship post the French Open was the last thing they needed. No wonder things escalated far more quickly.
Media sources have suggested that it was the Swiss Miss who finally took the initiative to call off the partnership.
Team Santina refutes allegations of disharmony
In the latest development, the pair has released a joint statement citing their inability to live up to the burgeoning expectations as the primary cause for the split.
“Perhaps, because of our great past results, we have had very high expectations from our partnership and unfortunately did not get the results we desired recently. We would like to clarify that it was a totally professional decision based purely on our recent results,” it said.
The statement also said that they will continue to share the same warm friendship they have had. In addition, it also refuted the allegations made by the media, calling them ‘fabricated stories’.
A highly-awaited reunion for the WTA Finals in October
Mirza will now play with Czech player Barbora Strycova while Hingis will be seen alongside Coco Vandeweghe of the USA. But they will pair up for one last tango in October during the WTA Finals for which they qualified together back in June, as confirmed by the pair.
“We also look forward to defending our title in the year-end WTA Finals in Singapore in October for which Santina has already qualified.”
For every top player, getting to compete against the crème of the sport is a lucrative opportunity they would not like to give up. The defending champions Mirza and Hingis too are no exceptions.
Besides, they are not the first pair to have parted ways after booking their berth at the prestigious Season-Ender. In 2014, the reigning French Open champions Peng Shuai and Su-Wei Hsieh also went separate ways after the US Open but teamed up one last time to make it to the final of the Year-Ender.
Here’s hoping that the break helps Team Santina find their lost spark and make it a memorable farewell in Singapore.