Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Defending U.S. Open Mixed Doubles champs Martina Hingis & Leander Paes through to 2nd round

NEW YORK – When Leander Paes and Martina Hingis, currently the most formidable mixed-doubles pair in the world, took Court 11 at the U.S. Open on Wednesday, they faced two players who were born after both Paes and Hingis began their careers.

The Paes-Hingis pairing has won four Grand Slam mixed doubles titles over the past two years. Their 2016 U.S. Open first-round opponents, Americans Frances Tiafoe and Sachia Vickery, were playing in just their third mixed doubles match together.

Paes and Hingis are 43 and 35, respectively. They turned professional in 1991 and 1994. Tiafoeis 18 and Vickery is 21. Tiafoe was born 11 days before Hingis won the 1998 Australian Open—her fourth career major singles title.

​Paes is well aware that he’s the old guy on tour, perhaps mainly because his opponents won’t let him forget. In locker rooms before matches, players tease him, pointing out that an opponent like either of the players he faced on Wednesday could be his son or daughter. He laughs it off.

“I think age is just a number. It’s all about fitness, it’s all about experience. It’s all about how you hit the ball,” Paes says. “The tennis ball doesn’t know the age of the person hitting it.”

Wednesday’s match against Tiafoe and Vickery, which Paes and Hingis won 6-3, 6-2 in less than an hour, wasn’t anything unusual for the defending U.S. Open mixed doubles champions. They’re accustomed to being the elder statesmen of tennis.

Neither player seems perturbed by the frequent age disparities they encounter. With age, of course, comes experience—and Hingis and Paes are both quintessential crafty veterans. Though Hingis later said the match was closer than the score, the result felt inevitable long before she and Paes sealed victory. They often resemble the parents who toy with their son or daughter in one-on-one driveway basketball, and Wednesday was no exception. When they earned a break to make it 5-2 in the second set, Paes celebrated by facing Hingis and, grinning, miming a few boxing jabs—truly the ultimate dad celebration.

Once they’re on the court, Hingis and Paes don’t think about their seniority. They happily point out that what they lack in youth they make up for in experience.

“Sometimes the experience kicks in on the big points or important points,” Hingis says. “It helps to have won a few Grand Slams before.”

Paes first paired with Hingis, his doubles partner with the Washington Kastles of World Team Tennis, ahead of the 2015 Australian Open. They promptly won the title in Melbourne, giving Paes his seventh mixed doubles title and Hingis her second. Since the start of 2015, the pair has won four of seven Grand Slam mixed doubles events, a remarkable run of dominance.

Paes, who is from India, is easily introspective. Without much prodding, he’ll talk about Eastern philosophy, for instance. He says things like this: “I think in every human being on this planet there is a champion.” And this: “I may have a few people out there who hate me. I’ve got 1.3 billion who love me. It’s alright. If I don’t have haters, I’m doing something wrong.” He discusses his partnership with Hingis like he might talk about a close family member, using words like “unconditional commitment” and “unconditional loyalty.”

Tiafoe and Vickery were no match for Hingis and Paes, but Paes still lauds the 18-year-old American.

“Frances is going to be one of the best players in the world,” Paes says.

It’s high praise coming from someone who has been in professional tennis for a quarter–century. And with every match Paes and Hingis play, their legend grows: They’ve won a combined 35 Grand Slam titles in doubles and mixed doubles, and five total Grand Slam titles in singles. (OK, those are all from Hingis.) But more impressive is the fact that they’re dominating at a combined age of 78.

“I was winning Grand Slams when these guys were being born—[Tiafoe] is 18 years old! I was 24 when he was born,” Paes says, laughing.

He later added: “It actually is quite flattering that I’ve been able to win Grand Slams for so many years and still stay at the top of the game for so many years.”

Hours after the match, as the first rain of the 2016 U.S. Open began to fall, Paes stopped talking and greeted a few members of Sachia Vickery’s family. They wanted a picture.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to team up in doubles for inaugural Laver Cup next year

NEW YORK (AP) Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who have faced each other in eight major finals, plan to team up as doubles partners next year during the inaugural Laver Cup.

With a combined 31 Grand Slam titles, Federer and Nadal have committed to the team event, which attempts to create a tennis version of golf's Ryder Cup.

Named for Australian great Rod Laver, the competition pitting a squad of European men's players against a group from the rest of the world was first announced in January. On Wednesday, organizers said the first edition would be held in Prague on Sept. 22-24, 2017, indoors at the O2 Arena.

Former rivals Bjorn Borg of Sweden (Europe) and John McEnroe of the U.S. (World team) will serve as captains for the first three years.

Laver, Borg, McEnroe, Federer and Nadal - accounting for 60 major singles titles - gathered at a Manhattan hotel Wednesday for the announcements.

The plan is for the Laver Cup to be held annually, except during Olympic years, two weeks after the U.S. Open, with the location rotating. There will be six men on each team: four based on the rankings after Wimbledon, and two captain's picks announced after the U.S. Open.

There will be 12 matches played over three days (nine singles and three doubles), with the number of points awarded for victories increasing each day. Each player will take the court once or twice for singles, with at least four of the six taking part in doubles.

All the matches will be best-of-three, but if the first two sets are split, they will go to a 10-point tiebreaker.

Borg hopes that the other half of the ''Big Four'' - the current top two men in the rankings, Serbia's Novak Djokovic and Britain's Andy Murray - will join Switzerland's Federer and Spain's Nadal on the Europe team. McEnroe acknowledged that for now at least, his World squad would be the heavy underdog, though a lot can happen in just over a year.

Beyond the Big Four, Europe boasts 13 of the current top 15 players in the men's rankings. And active European players have combined for 49 Grand Slam titles; for the rest of the world, it's just one, by Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro.

Federer's management company, TEAM8; Brazilian businessman Jorge Paulo Lemann, a former Davis Cup player; and Tennis Australia partnered to create the Laver Cup.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Roger Federer hoping to be back for Aussie Open in January 2017

Roger Federer, who is sidelined for the rest of the year, has said he plans to return to competition in Australia in January at the Hopman Cup and the Australian Open.

The record 17-times grand slam singles winner announced last month that he would be missing the Rio Olympics, the US Open and the remainder of the 2016 schedule in order to properly recover after having knee surgery earlier this year.

The Swiss world No4 said he was taking a positive outlook. “I don’t see it as the end of something. I see it as a beginning to something I’m working for, and when I come back to the Hopman Cup and then to the Australian Open ... that’s what I’m working for now,” said the 35-year-old.

Federer was speaking at a news conference where it was announced that he and Rafa Nadal were committing to play for Team Europe in the inaugural Laver Cup matches next year against a rest of the world team in Prague on 22-24 September.

“I’m doing well and I’ve been training as much as I possibly could to restrengthen my quad and my body to keep it in shape,” said Federer, who had surgery on his left knee in February.

“So when I head back into the gym for full on fitness in the next couple of months, then I’m ready for it. I just hope to be super strong when I come back in January.”

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Roger Federer considered playing Olympics, while skipping U.S.Open and vice versa

NEW YORK (AP) Maybe Roger Federer could play the Olympics and skip the U.S. Open. Or sit out the Rio Games and make it to New York.

The 17-time major champion contemplated both scenarios, holding out hope as long as he could that he'd find a way to enter at least one of the big events in August.

In the end, his balky left knee wouldn't allow him to do either.

At a meeting with doctors and trainers, Federer recalled, ''Everybody said, `You need a break - right now.'''

So the Swiss great announced in late July that he'd miss the rest of the season, by far the longest layoff of a remarkably healthy career.

Federer, who turned 35 this month, was in Manhattan on Wednesday to talk about playing tennis next year at the new Laver Cup team event. But for the first time since 1999, he's not preparing for the U.S. Open.

He underwent an arthroscopic procedure in February to repair torn cartilage - the first surgery of his career. Federer hasn't played since his Wimbledon loss to Milos Raonic, in which he fell awkwardly and called the trainer to check on what had become a nagging knee problem.

''I never really had pain, funny enough,'' Federer said Wednesday. ''It just felt unstable.''

Then there was the swelling.

''When it's swollen, you can't compete at the best level,'' he added.

An MRI didn't show anything distinctly different from before. For all his upbeat talk Wednesday about his future, Federer let some doubts seep in when he discussed the mystery of what's going on in the knee.

''That's why, I think, it's been to some extent frustrating,'' he said. ''At least if I had a lot of pain, or if the scan shows you thoroughly what exactly the problem is, then I think it's easier to take a decision.

''I really hope I'm not being misled by the knee that it doesn't feel painful. But it's just not 100 percent. That's why I just think the beating that I got in Wimbledon and the clay court season was just so complicated.''

Federer, who also skipped the French Open because of a bad back, didn't play tennis for five or six weeks and just now is starting to do a few things on the court. He's focused on exercises to strengthen his left quadriceps, such as squats, so he'll be physically ready once he ramps back up to his full workouts to prepare for January's Australian Open.

It might have been possible to return for a couple of tournaments late in 2016, Federer said, but there was no point once he knew he would miss the bulk of the fall schedule.

He reflected back to this past January, when the Laver Cup concept was unveiled at the Australian Open, and marveled: ''My God, I never thought I was going to have a year the way I had it.''

He hurt his knee while preparing a bath for his twin daughters, then later saw his record 65-appearance streak at major tournaments end. Federer won't win a title in a season for the first time since 2000. And now that he missed the Rio Games, his career could end without an Olympic singles gold medal.

He insisted he hasn't missed competition yet, though maybe that will change when the U.S. Open starts next week. The quiet away from the spotlight has been nice, he said - even if he quickly amended that to: ''I've got four kids - it's a different quiet.''

Back in New York, site of five of his titles, Federer said he watched a lot of volleyball during the Olympics and spoke to Andy Murray after the Brit won gold. Despite Murray's recent run, Federer still believes Novak Djokovic is the favorite at the U.S. Open.

No matter that the world's top-ranked player has struggled by his standards since completing the career Grand Slam at Roland Garros - Djokovic is just too good on the hard courts and too successful against Murray, Federer said.

If the Serb does win to move within four major titles of Federer's record, the man he's chasing will be forced to watch from afar.

''In a way it's painful, just because I love this place,'' Federer said, ''and it's hard watching the Olympics - I would have loved to have competed there as well. ... Would have loved to win a medal.''

Monday, August 22, 2016

Martina Hingis' former doubles partner Sania Mirza holds on to her #1 ranking dropping Hingis to 2

For so long the standard bearer for tennis on the subcontinent, Sania Mirza is no stranger to flying solo. A strange sensation for one of her generation's outstanding doubles players, but one that has fostered an inner steel crucial to her longevity at the top of the sport.

Following the premature conclusion of her singles career in 2012 owing to a serious wrist injury, Mirza quickly established herself as a doubles specialist to be reckoned with. Already a serial title winner, a sequence of increasingly fruitful partnerships elevated her game - and ranking - to new levels.

Alongside Bethanie Mattek-Sands, and in particular the evergreen Cara Black, Mirza lifted silverware at many of tennis' flagship events; with Black by her side, this culminated in the Indian qualifying for then winning the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.

When Black left the tour to focus on family life, it left Mirza as one of the most sought-after partners on tour. And it was not long before another serial major winner came calling: Martina Hingis.

Success was immediate, the duo winning their first 14 matches and three tournaments together. The last victory in this sequence, in Charleston, brought Mirza to another major milestone: the No.1 ranking.

So impressive were the pair's results - they won three consecutive majors, going unbeaten for 41 straight matches between August 2015 and February 2016 - Mirza was soon joined by Hingis atop the rankings. It was an honor they held until this Monday, when Mirza reassumed the mantle of outright No.1 following victory alongside new partner Barbora Strycova in the final of the Western & Southern Open.

Their opponents in the final were none other than Hingis and CoCo Vandeweghe, the ownership of the No.1 ranking adding an additional layer of intrigue to an already tense occasion.

"We played each other in the final, which is of course the best time to play each other," Mirza told ESPN. "It was not the easiest situation, it is a bit weird. There are nerves but at the end of the day we are tennis players and we have to try and win and do our best and we both tried to do the same thing.

"We had a great partnership but it was time to move on and we have moved on. We've both had a great tournament. I have to look forward and I have to focus all my energy on this partnership which is obviously doing great."

Defeat for Mirza would have seen her surrender sole possession of top spot to Hingis, and she was full of praise for her new partner's competitive instinct following a rollercoaster final, in which they trailed 1-5, 15-40 in the first set before storming back to clinch the title.

"We are really happy, it was a new partnership and we are obviously very happy and excited to have started this way and winning one of the big tournaments of the year," she said. "We had a really tough draw. We have beaten some big teams and for us it has been an amazing week.

"As professional athletes you have to first see whether you match each other on the court, which is what I thought which is why I approached her to play when that split had happened. Obviously I was right because our playing styles complement each other. We are similar personalities and we will get to know each other better in the course of time. We fight for every point."

The 38th doubles title of the 29-year-old's career extends her spell at No.1 to 72 weeks, a number bettered by only 10 players in history. The ranking will again be on the line when Hingis, Mirza and their new teammates head to New York for the year's final major, the US Open.

"Consistent performances matter, it's not a flash in the pan of one odd tournament. I have won six tournaments this year and played a bunch of finals which is huge already for this year. The hardcourts are my favorite surface. I am looking forward to the next few weeks. I am not going to put any added pressure on myself that this what I need to do or should do."

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Martina Hingis falls to former partner Sania Mirza in Cincinnati doubles final

Western Southern Open Facebook

Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis parted ways after Rogers Cup only to end up standing opposite each other at the Cincinnati Masters finals. Sania, paired with Barbora Strycova from the Czech Republic, defeated Martina, who has teamed up with Coco Vandeweghe of the United States of America, 7-5, 6-4.

With the win, Sania retained her number one status on the women's doubles ranking as Hingis slipped to the second spot.

The win comes as a soother to Olympics defeats for Sania Mirza who won her sixth title of the season and 38th in the doubles tally.

The Indo-Czech pair were down 1-5 in the first set, but finding the rhythm, the duo bounced back to take charge of the match with a 7-5 win.

There was a shaky start to the second set as well as Mirza-Strycova failed to convert a break point. They soon found success with a 3-1 lead and Mirza's forehand ensured a 6-4 win over the Swiss-American pair.

When asked about facing Hingis on the court, Sania said, "I am not going to lie. It's a very difficult situation. It's not easy because we are still good friends, so it's never easy. It's the first tournament since we split and we come and we have to play each other. Of course, there is no better match to play than the final, so it was difficult, I think. for both of us.

"But having said that we are professional tennis players. We have to come out and we have to give our best and we have to try and win. That's all we can do, and we both tried to do that," reports WTAtennis.

Sania is not bothered about the ranking and thinks that it is just a number. All she wanted to do was play to win and that's what she did.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza to face each other in Cincinnati Open doubles final post split

Just a week after formally announcing their split, Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis will be back on the same court, albeit on different sides. Mirza and her new partner Barbora Strycova beat Chan Hao-ching and Chan Yung-jan 6-2, 7-5 to set up a final duel against Hingis and Coco Vandeweghe.

After failing to produce consistent performances in the last few months, World No.1s Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis had decided to go their separate ways last week. Mirza and Hingis, who won a tournament back in May, are now just a win away from clinching the Cincinnati Masters title, but only one will end the day with a trophy in their hands.

Sania and her Czech Republic partner Barbora Strycova set up the cinematic finale after defeating Chan Hao-ching and Chan Yung-jan 6-2, 7-5 in the semi-final yesterday. They had earlier beaten USA's Christina McHale and Maria Sanchez 6-4, 6-4 in the Round of 16, before going past Timea Babos of Hungary and Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan 7-6, 6-1 in the quarterfinal.

The Indo-Czech pair are yet to drop a set in the tournament, and will face Martina Hingis and her partner from the USA, Coco Vandeweghe, who are on a similar run to the final. Hingis and Vandeweghe got a walkover in the Round of 16 and in the quarter-final, before defeating Julia Görges and Karolina Pliskova 6-1, 6-4 in the other semi-final.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Martina Hingis & new partner Coco Vandeweghe through to Cincinnati semis without playing a point

In an unusual scenario, Martina Hingis and Coco Vandeweghe   progressed to the semi-finals of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati without stepping on to the court.

This comes after the Swiss-American combination received a bye in the first round before their quarter-finals opponents Sara Errani and Carla Suarez Navarro conceded a walkover, sending the fourth seeds straight into the last-four stage.

This implies that the duo have earned 350 ranking points and $36,670 by entering the semi-finals, where they will be taking the court for the first time against fifth seeds Julia Georges and Karolina Pliskova on Saturday.

Hingis and Vandeweghe are unbeaten together, having won all their eight matches since teaming up earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Hingis’ former partner and fellow world number one Sania Mirza (along with partner Barbora Strycova) had to play two matches in a day en route the semi-finals. Should all go well, Hingis and Mirza could clash in the Sunday’s title-clash.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Martina Hingis & Timea Bacsinszky win silver in Rio Olympics

They should make a movie out of Martina Hingis's tennis career.

First the meteoric rise, five grand slam singles titles while still a teenager, the world number one ranking and her dazzling smile adorning magazine covers around the world.

Then there were the accidents, injuries, relationship bust-ups, retirements, two comebacks and a two-year suspension for testing positive for cocaine in 2007.

Older and wiser, the former Swiss Miss added another line to an already rich plot on Sunday when, 20 years after playing in her only previous Games in Atlanta, she added an Olympic medal to her collection in Rio.

It was not the color Hingis wanted as she and partner Timea Bacsinszky were beaten to gold in a 6-4 6-4 defeat by Russians Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina and there were plenty of tears shed at the end.

But a while later the 35-year-old, who came out of retirement for a second time in 2013 and has won three grand slam doubles titles to add to the nine she managed earlier in her career, reflected on her achievement.

"I think if you asked me 10 years ago if I would be here in Rio, I would say you're crazy because I didn't play for six years and being able to play for gold is unbelievable," she told reporters.

"Of course, you are a little disappointed (not to win gold), but looking back it's been an incredible journey," added Hingis, who had hoped to partner Roger Federer in a dream mixed doubles match-up until he was forced out by injury.

The Swiss, who recently announced that she had split with doubles partner Sania Mirza, said the tears were a mixture of joy and relief after a tension-packed week in which herself and Bacsinszky had saved two match points in the semi-final.

"We are there together to fight through thick and thin. We are one team, we made it on the court this far and I think we were very emotional in general," she said. "If it doesn't touch you at the Olympic Games, where does it touch you?"

Slightly disappointing, but the Russians were better and took their chances when it counted. 

If Martina and Timea played together longer before the Olympics they would have gotten the gold. 

They had their chances but lack of playing together regularly, and miscommunication on a lot of key moments proved to be their undoing. 

Hingis also had a bit of bad luck given that she was suppose to play with Belinda Bencic originally (they might have had an even bigger shot together).  

And of course the withdraw of Stan and Roger robbed her of a possible medal in mixed.  

I'm sure Martina will continue to do well with her new doubles partner.  Already looking forward to watching her play again at the U.S. Open in a few weeks. 

It may not have been the exact result they and the Swiss fans wanted, but silver is still fantastic. 

Who would have thought that at 35, Martina would still be going strong and win a medal at the Olympics.  

Another one for the record books, and another lovely memory to add to her continuously illustrious career. 

Congrats ladies!.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza release official statement on partnership split

After three Grand Slam victories and eleven WTA doubles titles together, we have mutually agreed that we would each be open to playing with other players for the remainder of the season.  

Perhaps, because of our great past results, we have had very high expectations from our partnership and unfortunately did not get the results we desired recently. We would like to clarify that it was a totally professional decision based purely on our recent results.

The professional decision has not and will not in any way affect the wonderful personal relationship that we continue to share.  We also look forward to defending our title in the year-end WTA Finals in Singapore in October for which Santina has already qualified.  We hope that this puts to rest some of the fabricated stories that have been doing the rounds in some sections of the media.

Sania and Martina

Martina Hingis Official Facebook

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Martina Hingis & Timea Bacsinszky going for gold in Rio Olympics

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Timea Bacsinszky and Martina Hingis staged a stunning comeback on Friday night to defeat Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka and keep alive their dream of an Olympic gold medal.

Four years ago in London, Hlavackova and Hradecka won silver and they looked on course for a return to the final when took the first set and surged ahead in the second. However, their Swiss opponents hung doggedly onto their coattails, escaping from a dramatic second set to complete a 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-2 victory.

The turning point came with Hradecka serving at 5-4 in the second set. Having already saved one match point, Hingis fended off another with a ferocious volley that struck Hlavackova in the eye from point-blank range.

Despite a lengthy injury timeout, it was a blow from which Hlavackova and Hradecka were unable to recover. The Czechs lost the first two points on the resumption to drop serve and while they did manage to force a tie-break, it was one that never looked like going their way.

Bacsinszky and Hingis compounded this misery in the decider, rattling off four straight games to complete the comeback.

Heading into Rio, an Olympic medal was one of the few prizes missing from Hingis' resume. Her hopes of winning one were dealt a double blow by the withdrawal or first Roger Federer and then Belinda Bencic. Bacsinszky, though, has deputized ably and on Saturday the first-time partnership will meet Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina for gold.

Makarova and Vesnina were quarterfinalists in London and have picked up a couple of Grand Slam titles since then. Against Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova they needed to draw on all this experience to overcome a slow start and edge through, 7-6(7), 6-4.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Martina Hingis & Timea Bacsinszky help Switzerland reach semis at Rio Olympics

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - World Co-No.1 Martina Hingis kept her hopes of a first Olympic medal alive as she and countrywoman Timea Bacsinszky blasted past No.3 seeds Chan Yung-Jan and Chan Hao-Ching, 6-3, 6-0 to reach the semifinals of the Olympic tennis event in women's doubles.

Bacsinszky bounced back from a disappointing first round defeat in singles to play just her second doubles tournament of 2016 alongside Hingis, the reigning US Open, WTA Finals and Australian Open champion.

Together, the pair have dropped just one set through their first three matches, and were particularly dominant against the Chans - a formidable pair who were the last team to defeat Hingis and then-partner Sania Mirza before the duo went on a 41-match winning streak - winning the second set in just 35 minutes.

After going down an early break to start, the No.5 seeds broke serve six straight times to book a semifinal encounter with either Russians Daria Kasatkina and Svetlana Kuznetsova or No.6 seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic. Hlavackova and Hradecka captured the silver medal at the London Olympics, falling to three-time Olympic champions Venus and Serena Williams.

Hingis is playing her first Olympic tennis event since 1996, when she was 15 years old.

On the top half of the draw, Czechs Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova kept up their giant-killing run with a three-set win over former World No.1s Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. The Italians reunited for the Olympics, but fell in a tough 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 defeat to Safarova and Strycova, who began their tournament with a win over the Williams sisters.

Santina Split: Martina Hingis took the call to part ways with Sania Mirza

One of the most successful women’s doubles teams in recent times has parted ways. Martina Hingis has conveyed to her partner Sania Mirza that she will no longer partner her on the WTA Tour, sources close to the Indian star have told journalists.

Reports suggest Hingis will play with Coco Vandeweghe of the United States while Mirza will team up with Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic. The 24-year-old Vandeweghe brings new energy to the partnership and the duo is likely to compete together in the US Open.

For some time, Hingis and Mirza have had differences over their mixed doubles run-ins. Hingis partners Paes in mixed while Mirza plays with Croatian Ivan Dodig. Their last two encounters have been evenly split. While Mirza and Dodig prevailed in the quarters of the Australian Open, Paes and Hingis got their own back by besting them to win the French Open title in a close match.

Pivotal role

Sources say Hingis was peeved that Mirza was unhappy after the French loss and that reflected in their interactions. The Swiss player has been pivotal in the recent success of both Mirza and Paes on the doubles tour. Mirza reached the top spot in the rankings after they won the Family Circle Cup last April, becoming the first Indian woman to do so. Paes and Hingis have completed a career Grand Slam in mixed doubles as partners.

Hingis and Mirza are ranked number one in the world of women’s doubles. Both have 10790 points which puts them far ahead of third-placed Caroline Garcia at 6605 points. The Indo-Swiss duo have claimed five titles this year, with the cherry being the Australian Open. That had ensured their berth in the season-ending $7,000,000 WTA finals in Singapore in October but it remains to be seen if the defending champions play together.

The Santina split was confirmed by a source close to Mirza. “Yes, the partnership is over. They have not got the desired results in last five months. You see, they have lost to players outside the top-100 and it reflects that something is wrong. But this is a regular (phenomenon); you can change partners if results are not coming,” the source said.

But it is far from clear what may have led to the end of the partnership. Pairs as successful as Mirza and Hingis hardly split over things such as short-term results. But neither side has formally spoken out on the split which, sources in the Indian tennis team said, had been sought by the former world singles champion.

Hingis has been the pivotal factor in the recent successes of both Mirza and Leander Paes. The unhinging of the Santina combo could well see a major impact on Mirza’s world ranking.

The gutsy Indian, however, does have the tenacity to beat frightful odds. It remains to be seen just how she reinvents herself and whether she is able to retain her top world ranking.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Zac Hanson and wife welcome baby #4!

MMM-tot: Zac Hanson is a dad again!

The Hanson drummer and wife of 10 years Kate welcomed their fourth child on Saturday, Aug. 6, his rep confirms exclusively to PEOPLE.

“We are overjoyed to share the arrival of Mary Lucille Diana Hanson,” the 30-year-old musician tells PEOPLE exclusively of their newest addition to the family, who was born in Zac’s hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, weighing in at 8 lbs., 4 oz.

The couple’s daughter, who will go by Lucille, joins big sister Junia Rose Ruth, 5½, and big brothers George Abraham Walker, 2½, and John Ira Shepherd, 8.

“It is such an inspiration to meet her and to imagine all of the adventures we will take together as a family of six,” the father of four adds.

Aside from her siblings, Lucille has eight cousins to hang out with in Isaac andTaylor Hanson‘s children. Isaac, 35, is dad to sons James Monroe, 8, and Clarke Everett, 9, as well as 2-year-old daughter Nina Odette with wife Nicole.

Taylor, 33, has five children with wife Natalie: Jordan Ezra, 13, Penelope Anne, 11, River Samuel, 9½, Viggo Moriah, 7½, and Wilhelmina Jane, 3½.

Most of the Hanson clan goes by their middle names, including Isaac (whose first name is actually Clarke, like his oldest) and Taylor (whose first name, likehis oldest, is Jordan). Their desires for a big extended family are no surprise, as the Tulsa-raised Hanson brothers are themselves the oldest of seven children.

And like with Taylor’s children Penelope (A.K.A. Penny) and River, Lucille’s name will resonate with Hanson fans. On the band’s breakout album Middle of Nowhere — which turns 20 next year — “Lucy” was the only song which featured the youngest Hanson member on lead vocals. And “Diana” is special, too — it’s the name of Zac and his siblings’ mother.

“It’s fun this time to watch the little ones so excitedly anticipating their new sibling,” Zac, who recently performed with his band on Greatest Hits, said shortly before his son Abraham’s birth.

The band — who are also beer connoisseurs on top of being musicians — notably opened their own independent record label in 2003, under which they released their latest album Anthem in 2013. Their newest EP Loud was released to members in May, and their upcoming EP Play will be available on their website beginning Oct. 10.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza end their doubles partnership?

World No. 1 Doubles pair Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis have decided to end their partnership. Each player has entered the US Open women’s doubles draw, but with different partners – Mirza with former partner Barbora Strycova of the United States of America, and Hingis with Coco Vandeweghe of the Czech Republic.

24-year-old Vandeweghe won the US Open Juniors title in 2008, and last year reached the semi-finals of the US Open with partner Anna-Lena Gronefeld of Germany. This year, the American and Romania’s Horia Tecau together reached the finals of the Australian Open in the mixed doubles, losing out to the combine of Elena Vesnina and Bruno Soares.

Together Mirza and Hingis became one of the most successful women’s tennis pairings in recent years, winning titles at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2015, and at the Australian Open this year. Hingis also took Grand Slam titles with Leander Paes in the mixed doubles, marking a successful run for India in tennis.

However, the pair have not been able to maintain their form midway through 2016. Although they won the Australian Open early in the year, and two WTA titles – in St Petersburg and then at the WTA Italian Open – they have not been able to replicate their successes of 2015, which they ended as the top-ranked women’s doubles pair.

They have seen early – or unexpected – losses in a number of tournaments this year.

Mirza’s run in the women’s doubles at the Rio 2016 Olympics has also ended, with the 29-year-old and partner Prarthana Thombare losing to China’s Shuai Peng and Zhang Shuai in the first round.

Hingis, who had been due to play in the mixed doubles with Stan Wawrinka, will only be in the women’s doubles at Rio 2016, partnering Timea Bacszinsky. The pair have won their first round match, interestingly against Coco Vandeweghe and Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States – while Mattek-Sands is a former doubles partner of Sania Mirza, Vandeweghe will be Hingis’ successor.

Mirza will partner Rohan Bopanna in the mixed doubles at Rio 2016, with their first match to be played tomorrow. Their opponents are as yet unknown.

Very surprising and disappointing. 

Given they are the current world #1. Wishing Martina best of luck and success with her new American partner.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Martina Hingis & Timea Bacsinszky reach 3rd round in Olympic doubles

The Swiss team composed by Martina Hingis and Timea Bacsinszky defeated in two sets and with a double 6-4 American doubles composed by Coco Vandeweghe and Bethanie Mattek-Sands and in the third round they will meet the winners of the match between the British team and the team of Taipei.

Timea Bacsinszky and Martina Hingis (SUI) d. Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 6-4 6-4.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Happy 35th Birthday Swiss Maestro!

Happy Birthday, Roger Federer. It’s hard to believe that the elegant Swiss, the complete player of his generation, is now 35 years of age. At a time when travel-worn professionals call time on their global adventures, Federer’s love affair for tennis, which began when he watched Boris Becker win Wimbledon in 1985, endures. His love of routine, of practice, of winning, of mastering the sport have outweighed any sacrifice or disappointment.

His presence as an entertainer, the fulcrum of attacking tennis at his best, has enriched the lives of sports lovers in the 21st century. While his list of achievements with a tennis racquet is prodigious, the leader of the golden age of men’s professional tennis has also helped the sport significantly grow as a politician by championing the talents and potential of current and future ATP World Tour players.

By valuing privacy and largely eschewing the celebrity culture, Federer has been able to enjoy his fame. Having contested more than 1,300 singles matches and 136 finals in a 20-season pro career, his ability to be a family man and a top tennis player, with extensive off-court interests – including the Roger Federer Foundation – indicate a dedication, commitment and desire that is remarkable.

Happy Birthday, Roger. We look forward to welcoming you back on the court in 2017!

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Olympics and tennis an imperfect match

Four majors beats five rings of a kind.

Tennis may be an original Olympic sport — included when the modern Games debuted in 1896 — but medals can’t compete with Grand Slams.

Wimbledon, Roland Garros, the Australian and U.S. Opens: There’s the glory.

Prospecting for gold is nice. Trophy silverware shines more brightly, however, for the racquet gang. Their professional lives revolve around the annual quartet of majors, even as they schlep to tournaments from week to week.

So, while not quite as Games averse as their marquee golf contemporaries, elite tennis players aren’t entirely enthralled by the whole Olympics hoopla. Certainly not since the novelty of their sport’s full medal jacket return to the spectacle in 1988 — it had been dropped after 1924 — tapered off. And even less so with the decision not to incorporate Games results into the ATP and WTA world rankings, as had been the case from 2004 through 2012.

Thus far, nine players ranked in the top 25 have announced they won’t be flying down to Rio. They include Canada’s Milos Raonic, Wimbledon semifinalist Tomas Berdych, endlessly petulant Nick Kyrgios (claiming the Australian Olympic Committee has treated him unfairly) and compatriot Bernard Tomic, rising Austrian sensation Dominic Thiem, France’s Richard Gasquet (back injury), Spain’s Feliciano Lopez (who cited scheduling issues), German wunderkind teen Alexander Zverev (citing illness) and Romania’s Simona Halep (the Rogers Cup champion).

Five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova wants to go but can’t; her appeal of a two-year drug ban has been postponed until September.

The London Games, staged on Wimbledon’s courts, retained a Grand Slam aura. But the tennis complex in Rio commands no such prestige. Anxiety over the Zika virus provides some cover for athletes, such as Raonic, who’ve bailed on these Olympics. But it was almost refreshing when Sam Querrey — who shockingly bounced world No. 1 Novak Djokovic at the All England Club a few weeks ago — cut to the honest quick in recent comments. “I don’t necessarily think it maybe should be an Olympic sport,” the American observed. “Some sports in the Olympics — that and golf — you know, I feel like maybe shouldn’t be there. It just wasn’t a priority of mine at all.’’

He’s taken a pass. “We have four . . . Grand Slams. Those kind of take precedent. Those are the main focus for us.’’

When Martina Navratilova opted out of Seoul, she declared: “I don’t think of tennis as a real Olympic sport.’’

Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe also skipped Seoul, though the latter has since admitted that sidestepping the Olympics is one of his biggest regrets.

The U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows, starting Aug. 29, looms large for most top-tier players as the final major of the season. Rio is a long way to go with little upside to the excursion. Some players look upon the Olympics as on par with all-star games — not worth the effort or the potential for injury. Further, because tennis is a non-jingo endeavour on tour — athletes don’t represent nations even when identified by the country on their passport — the players don’t easily rise to the bait of national pride.

Of course, there are those who are quite stirred by the spectacle of the biggest show on Earth. Andre Agassi, who won gold in Atlanta in 1996, said: “To win a Grand Slam is the greatest thing in the sport, but to win an Olympics is the biggest thing you can do in all sports.’’

Rafael Nadal will be Spain’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremonies unless his bum wrist prevents participation. Roger Federer was keen but withdrew a few days ago, simultaneously revealing he’s shutting it down for the rest of the season to rehabilitate the knee that required surgery earlier this year and was re-aggravated in his Wimbledon semifinal loss to Raonic: “I’m extremely disappointed to announce that I will not be able to represent Switzerland at the Olympic Games in Rio and I will also miss the remainder of the season.”

Federer, a gold medallist in doubles with countryman Stan Wawrinka, has never won the Olympics singles title. An epic final against Andy Murray four years ago resulted in silver. Murray, fresh off his Wimbledon triumph, will seek to defend his title in Rio. “Tennis most certainly belongs in the Olympic Games,” the Scotsman insists. “After I lost early in the Beijing Olympics eight years ago, I knew how much it hurt. The tennis during the London Games at Wimbledon was one of the best weeks of my life and the crowd was something I will always remember.’’

Djokovic shares Murray’s view on the Games, stating categorically earlier this year it would be “unthinkable” for him not to go. In Toronto for the Rogers Cup (which he won) this past week, Djokovic doubled down on that commitment as he aims for a reset on the splendid season that was so rudely interrupted by early elimination at Wimbledon. As an Olympian, Djokovic has only one bronze medal, won in Beijing, where he was Serbia’s flag-bearer. Four years ago, he lost the bronze-medal match. In Rio he’s also scheduled to contest doubles.

Despite the Olympic non-interest of Querrey and fellow American John Isner, No. 16 in the world, the U.S. is sending a formidable 12-pack team led by the Williams sisters. Serena and Venus, who both began their Olympic careers in Sydney and were golden in London in singles (Serena) and doubles. In fact, they’re on the hunt for their fourth doubles gold. Serena has expressed “sadness” over athletes who’ve decided Rio isn’t worth the Zika virus risk. “It’s probably one thing I have that I love the most,” she said of her Olympic medals. “It is really one of the best experiences that I’ve ever had.”

Eugene Bouchard isn’t letting Zika fears stand in the way of making her Olympic debut. “I had concerns about going, of course, because of Zika and my health and summer in general,” she said on the eve of the Rogers Cup in Montreal. “I spent a lot of time making this decision, but in the end I know that I really want to go.’’

The 22-year-old will be joined by Vasek Pospisil, Daniel Nestor and Gabriela Dabrowski.

Other notables confirmed: Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber, Agnieszka Radwanska, Garbine Muguruza, Petra Kvitova, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Rogers Cup finalist Kei Nishikori.

Plus seven Russians — albeit not Sharapova — who’ve passed the International Tennis Federation sniff test.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Martina Hingis out of Olympics mixed doubles, plays with new doubles partner

Martina Hingis will not play mixed doubles in her return to the Olympics for the first time since her Atlanta 1996 debut, but she did get a new doubles partner.

Hingis, a 35-year-old five-time Grand Slam singles champion from the late 1990s, will play with Timea Bacsinszky in Rio.

Hingis lost her original Olympic doubles and mixed doubles partners in a two-day span last week, when Belinda Bencic and Roger Federer both withdrew due to injuries.

Hingis is ruled out of mixed doubles since the only other Swiss male player, Stan Wawrinka, wants to concentrate on singles.

Hingis will not play singles in Rio, as she is now a doubles specialist on the WTA Tour, ranking No. 1 in the world.