Friday, January 29, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza 'Santina' to face off in Aussie Open Mixed Doubles

MELBOURNE, Australia - Co-No.1s Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza played their best match of the Australian Open on Wednesday, dropping just one game to No.13 seeds Julia Goerges and Karolina Pliskova to win a 35th straight match, and reach a third straight major final - having already captured titles at Wimbledon and the US Open.

Before they take on Silent Hs Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka for their first Australian Open title as a pair - Hingis' first in women's doubles since 2002 and fourth overall - they will find themselves under the rare circumstance of being on opposite sides of the net, as each hope to add a mixed doubles crown to their ever-growing trophy collection.

Top seed with partner Ivan Dodig, Mirza will play Hingis and Leander Paes, who are unseeded but defending champions at the Australian Open, in the quarterfinals of the mixed event. The pair have not played against one another since last year's Apia International Sydney, when the Indian star partnered Bethanie Mattek-Sands to beat Hingis and former partner Flavia Pennetta en route to the title.

Inseparable since pairing up ahead of the BNP Paribas Open last spring, Santina have played 17 tournaments together, winning 11 times. From their initial three-title breakthrough in Indian Wells, Miami, and Charleston, the two capped their near-perfect season with a win at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, and have picked up where they left off in 2016, winning back-to-back titles in Brisbane and Sydney and losing only one set in Melbourne.

Handicapping their chances in mixed, Hingis has won four major titles to Mirza's three. The Swiss Miss was a French Open title short of a mixed doubles Grand Slam in 2015, partnering Paes - with whom she plays for the Washington Kastles each summer for Mylan World TeamTennis - to win the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles.

Mirza's most recent mixed doubles victory came in 2014 with Bruno Soares at the US Open, but she is also a former Australian Open mixed champion, pairing Mahesh Bhupati for the title in 2009.

Should Hingis emerge victorious on Thursday afternoon, the 20-time Grand Slam champion would remain in the hunt for non-calendar year Grand Slams in both women's doubles and mixed, having already earned two legs of the box set at Wimbledon at the US Open.

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