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Cincinnati Masters 2016: Sania Mirza and Barbora Strycova reach semi-finals

This is Mirza's first WTA tournament since splitting with Martina Hingis.

Sania Mirza
Sania Mirza missed out on an Olympic medal at Rio

Sania Mirza’s new partnership with Czech veteran Barbora Strycova is off to a flying start. The seventh seeds booked their places in the semi-finals of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, USA on Friday. The Indo-Czech duo upset the third seeds Timea Babos and Yaroslava Shvedova, 7-6(4), 6-1 in the quarter-finals in 2 hours 48 minutes.

Mirza and Strycova’s first serve percentage was at a high 95% that helped their cause. Their pinpoint accuracy and ability to thrive on the biggest moments helped them convert all four of the break point opportunities that they were presented with.

The Wimbledon runners-up team of Babos and Shvedova, in contrast, could break the seventh seeds just once.

This was the second win of the day for the Indo-Czech combine. Earlier, they had beaten the all-American pair of Christina McHale and Maria Sanchez 6-4, 6-4 in the second round. They had secured five breaks of serve in that contest while getting themselves broken thrice.

Also read: Rio Olympics 2016, Tennis: What went wrong for Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna?

In the last-four stage, Mirza and Strycova will face the second seeds Hao-Ching Chan and Yung-Jan Chan.

This is Mirza’s first WTA tournament since splitting with Martina Hingis with whom she played together for 14 months. The highly successful partnership saw them clinch a total of 14 doubles titles that include three Grand Slam crowns. But they had been unable to string together tournament wins on a regular basis in recent times which became the sole reason for their parting ways, as confirmed later by the duo.

Interestingly, Mirza and Hingis are placed in opposite sides of the draw at Cincinnati which means they have a possibility of meeting each other if they both reach the final. Hingis too has reached the semi-finals with her new partner Coco Vandeweghe after receiving a bye and a couple of walkovers.

Kerber two wins away from becoming No. 1

Meanwhile in singles, Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber is now just two wins away from usurping Serena Williams from the top spot. The second seed had a hard fought quarter-final victory over the ninth-seeded Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro whom she came back to defeat 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.

“I think I changed a little bit my game in the second set: I was trying to go for it when I have the chance and to making the rallies a little bit shorter,” the German said about her comeback.

She will next meet the third seed Simona Halep for a place in the final.

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