Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza extend winning streak to 33 reach Australian Open Quarter-Finals

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Third round women's doubles action came to a close at the Australian Open on Monday, with three of the eight teams featured at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global reaching the quarterfinals. Led by the streaking top seeds and Co-No.1s Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis, the draw features more than a few compelling match-ups and storylines as the first major tournament of the season; which will rise to the top as the tournament heads to what promises to be an exciting conclusion?

33 Straight For Santina: With two titles already under their belt to start the 2016 season, Hingis and Mirza sailed through another straight set win in Melbourne, this time over former No.1 Roberta Vinci and partner, Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-1, 6-3. Santina conspired to hit an astounding 38 winners and save seven of eight break points faced. With the win streak now up to 33, the top seeds are just 11 wins from tying the longest streak since 1990, when Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova won 44 in a row.

The longest-ever streak belongs to one of the most successful partnerships of all time, Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver, who won 109 matches in a row between 1983 and 1985. Hoping to stop the Santina streak are No.12 seeds Coco Vandeweghe and Anna-Lena Groenefeld, a high-octane team who came together last year and reached the semifinals of the US Open - falling to eventual finalists Yaroslava Shvedova and Casey Dellacqua.

Comeback Queens: Vania King won back-to-back majors with Shvedova in 2010, capturing the Wimbledon and US Open crowns en route to a career high ranking of No.3. Out for nearly eight months with a back injury, the American is back and into her first major quarterfinal since the 2012 French Open.

New partner and longtime friend Alla Kudryavtseva vowed to make "Miss King the Comeback Queen" at the start of the season, and the two did just that on Monday, recovering from a set down to take out No.5 seeds Elena Vesnina and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova after racing past No.11 seeds Shvedova and Samantha Stosur in the second round. King and Kudryavtseva next face No.13 seeds Karolina Pliskova and Julia Goerges, who stunned No.3 seeds and French connection Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic in straight sets. Might King make her first major semifinal in nearly five years?

Sister, Sister: Arina Rodionova may have gotten married during her attempt to earn an Australian Open singles wildcard, but lord help the mister that comes between she and sister Anastasia this week at the Australian Open. The Aussies are into their first major quarterfinal as a pair (Arina's first, Anastasia's eighth) after roaring past No.8 seeds Lara Arruabarrena and Andreja Klepac to start the week and edging out and defending champion Bethanie Mattek-Sands and new partner Sabine Lisicki in round two.

The Russian-born Rodionovas thrilled the Hisense Arena crowd on Sunday when they defeated Dominika Cibulkova and Kirsten Flipkens in three tight sets, and are set to headline Tuesday's night session on Rod Laver Arena when they face No.15 seeds Xu Yi-Fan and Zheng Saisai for a spot in the semifinals.

Singapore Redux: Silent Hs Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka and Chan sisters Yung-Jan and Hao-Ching were late surges into last year's WTA Finals, but both teams have carried that momentum into 2016, dropping a combined one set to reach the quarterfinals. The two teams met just once in 2015, with the Taiwanese pair narrowing defeating the Czechs in a 10-8 match tie-break at the Rogers Cup.

The Chans were Santina's closest rivals last season, and remain the last team to defeat them at the Western & Southern Open in August. On opposite halves of the draw, the Top 2 seeds look to be heavy favorites to meet in the final and for the first time since Singapore, where the Chans fell in the semifinals in straight sets.

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