Second seeds and dending champions Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis today beat the Chinese Taipei doubles pairing of sisters Yung-jan Chan and Hao-Ching Chan in straight sets 7-6, 7-5, to progress to the semi-finals at the WTA Finals in Singapore, where they are the defending champions. The Indo-Swiss pair, who ended 2015 as the World No. 1 ranked pair, last year beat the Spanish combine of Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro for the trophy.
Today’s match was a closely fought contest between the pairs, and marked the first match Mirza and Hingis played together since their split in August earlier this year. Following that split, Mirza, who went on to partner Czech ace Barbora Strycova, was so successful that she ascended to the top ranking alone. Mirza recently completed 80 weeks at the top rank,a spot spurred on by resurgent performances in the Asian leg of the WTA Tour with Strycova; the pair won titles in Cincinnati and Japan together despite not finding success at the US Open.
Hingis, who has partnered with American Coco Vandeweghe, still stands in No. 2 spot behind Mirza with only a handful fewer points than her former partner, with whom she is said to have initiated the split.
Despite having split 6 months ago, the pair still played the quick, coordinated game they are known for. Although their chemistry appeared to have dulled somewhat, the pair were synchronized and once they overcame a few initial hiccups, moved quickly through the set.
The Chan sisters, who have made multiple Grand Slam finals, proved to be wily competitors for Mirza and Hingis today. Younger sister Hao-ching Chan in particular was strong on shot placement, at one point during the match bisecting Mirza and Hingis for a point. The sisters, who have been longtime doubles partners, played some good spinning forehands, but proved in the end not to be enough of a match for Mirza’s aggressive, wristy forehand and Hingis’ experience around the net.
A strategic combination of baseline play from Mirza and some exquisite shot placement from the net by Hingis forced a number of errors off the sisters from Chinese Taipei, who at one point still looked on course to win the first set.
The two took the first set to a super tiebreak, with Mirza and Hingis three set points down before eventually taking the tiebreak 12-10 and with it the set, 7-6.
Although there were not many breaks of serve in the first set, the second saw consecutive breaks of serve by either team, ensuring scores stayed even almost throughout the set. Hingis’ fast serves and shot placement, with a few crucial net cords from Yung-jan Chan, saw the Indo-Swiss pair quickly race to match point.
A quick lob from Mirza gave the pair the final break in the match, and the pair went on to serve for the match, with Hingis on serve, as Mirza quickly sealed the match with an ace.
The Indo-Swiss pair managed 7 aces through that match, and were significantly stronger on their first serves than their second. The match was rich with breaks, with the Chan sisters breaking Mirza and Hingis on three occasions, with the Indo-Swiss former No. 1 pair breaking back on four.
The defending champions will now play the semi-finals in a quest to defend their 2015 title.