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Sania Mirza completes 80 weeks as World No. 1

922   //    19 Oct 2016, 09:18 IST
WUHAN, CHINA - OCTOBER 01:  Sania Mirza of India and Barbora Strycova of Czech Republic in action against Lucie Safarova of Czech Republic and Bethanie Mattek-Sands of United States during the double final match of 2016 Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open at Optics Valley International Tennis Center on October 1, 2016 in Wuhan, China.  (Photo by Kevin Lee/Getty Images)
Mirza ended 2015 as World No. 1 and looks set to repeat the feat in 2016

Indian ace Sania Mirza, who ended 2015 as the top-ranked doubles player in the world with partner Martina Hingis, took that title alone earlier this year after splitting with the Swiss and pairing with Czech ace Barbora Strycova.

Yesterday, the 29-year-old completed a total of 80 weeks as the top-ranked player – the tenth-highest number of weeks as the WTA No. 1 doubles player. The all-time record rests with Czech-American legend Martina Navratilova, who yesterday celebrated her 60th birthday. Widely considered among the greatest players of all time, Navratilova won a staggering eighteen Grand Slams in the singles, 31 in the doubles, 19 year-ending championships and a whopping 276 WTA Tour level titles in the singles and doubles together.

Mirza, who initially started out in the singles and is considered one of India’s finest ever players, is the highest-ranked doubles player in Indian women’s history and was the first Indian woman to win a Grand Slam title.

She reached a career high of 27 in the WTA singles rankings, but saw her career cut short due to frequent, and serious, injury. Mirza had had a fairly successful singles career upto then, reaching as far as the fourth round at the US Open, winning a WTA singles title and another fourteen on the ITF tour.

A troublesome wrist may have curtailed her singles career, but Mirza’s decision to return and focus entirely on the doubles proved to be the right choice for the young player, who had already won a juniors Grand Slam – the girls’ doubles title at Wimbledon in 2003 – the year she turned pro, with Alisa Kleybanova of Russia.

She would come back in the doubles with a series of partners and made her way up the rankings, but it her pairing with Martina Hingis in early 2015 that shot the Indian to the top of the rankings.

Together, the pair won three Grand Slam titles – at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2015, before winning year-opening titles in Sydney and Brisbane prior to their Australian Open victory.

Mirza and Hingis shocked tennis fans, however, when they announced a surprise split that many suggest Hingis initiated. After the split, Mirza joined forces with Czech Barbora Strycova, while Hingis joined forces with American professional Coco Vandeweghe. Although both pairs have played consistently since the split, it is by far the Indo-Czech combine that has been most successful.

The pair won titles at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati  – interstingly, beating Hingis and Vandeweghe for their first title together. Mirza followed that up with a Connecticut Open win with one-off partner Monica Niculescu. The pair, who played the US Open together this year, saw a quarter-final exit there, but would go on to find immense success on the Asian leg of the WTA Tour.

That split, coupled with title wins, gave Mirza the sole World No. 1 ranking from her partner, with whom she had previously shared the title, 40 weeks ago. Although Hingis tails Mirza in second on the WTA rankings, Mirza has found singular consistency and form this year and looks in strong form to end a second consecutive year as World No. 1.

Although the pair have since split, Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis will together play at the WTA Finals in Singapore this week; the two qualified together for the event, with Mirza missing out on qualifying with partner Barbora Strycova.

The WTA Finals will commence on the 23rd of October in the city-state of Singapore.

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