Indian ace Sania Mirza and her doubles partner Barbora Strycova, who are seeded fourth at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, are through to the second round at the event, defeating the German-Latvian pair of Julia Goerges and Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4.
Former World No.1 Mirza and partner Strycova, who won a series of titles after coming together in 2016, took just over an hour and fifteen minutes to take the win, with the winners stronger on their first serve and staving off four of eight possible break points from their rivals.
Goerges and Ostapenko were broken six times en route to that win, despite both being fairly experienced doubles campaigners; Goerges finished runner-up in the women’s doubles in 2016 with Karolina Pliskova.
Following successes with both Martina Hingis and Barbora Strycova, Sania Mirza held the World No. 1 ranking until early January 2017, when she paired up with former partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands to win the year-opening WTA title in Brisbane; that win shot Mattek-Sands to top spot, with Mirza in second.
The Indian is now in seventh in the doubles rankings, with partner Strycova at 12th, while former partner Martina Hingis is at 8th in the rankings.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands, meanwhile, sits atop the rankings, followed by her partner Lucie Safarova – the American-Czech top seeds won the title at the Australian Open in January and have been in their best form of late, while Mirza and Strycova suffered a shock loss to the unseeded pair of Eri Hozumi and Miyu Kato at the Round of 16 at the year-opening Grand Slam.
Mattek-Sands is the reigning champion at Indian Wells in the women’s doubles, winning last year with compatriot CoCo Vandeweghe, while Mirza saw a second-round exit with then-partner Martina Hingis, meaning she stands to gain points should she progress beyond Round 2 this year.
Today, however, the pair surprisingly laboured to a first-round win over Monica Niculescu and Christina McHale, winning 6-3, 3-6 10-7 after a second-set win for their rivals necessitated a deciding tiebreak.
Mirza and Strycova will now play Italy’s Sara Errani and Alicja Rosolka of Poland.
In the men’s draw, former top 10 player Rohan Bopanna, who has partnered Pablo Cuevas at Indian Wells, will take on the all-Serbian combine of Novak Djokovic and Viktor Troicki.