Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Martina Hingis & Coco Vandeweghe through to U.S. Open doubles semis

Martina Hingis and CoCo Vandweghe haven’t even finished their second tournament together, but they appear to have already clicked as a team.

Competing in just their sixth match together, the No. 6 seeds moved into the semifinals with a dominant win over No. 16 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, 6-1, 6-2. Hingis is in the final four for the third consecutive year, having finished runner-up in 2014 with Flavia Pennetta and winning in 2015 with Sania Mirza. Vandeweghe is into the semis for the second straight year, having previously achieved the feat last year with Anna-Lena Groenefeld.

Vandeweghe’s doubles prowess this year is particularly noteworthy because she only occasionally played doubles until last summer. But she sees a very clear reason why the new partnership with the Swiss Miss is working.

“The fact that she’s Martina Hingis,” laughed Vandeweghe. “We mesh really well on and off the court. She picks up where I’m lacking and she’s on my case, so there’s not a lot room for me to lose myself mentally.”

Hingis and Mirza made headlines last month by ending their doubles partnership, despite co-holding the No. 1 WTA doubles ranking and winning three Grand Slams together in the past 12 months. When it came time for Hingis to find another partner, the 1997 US Open singles champion immediately thought of Vandeweghe after playing against her on several occasions.

“She has a huge serve and huge shots, so she sets you up really nicely at the net. A lot of times, it feels like I have to just hit one volley,” said Hingis. “I’m used to being with someone who hits big from the baseline and that’s what I want. Two Martinas wouldn’t be the best thing out there.”

Their plan to get matches before the US Open at the Emirates Airline US Open Series event in Cincinnati didn’t quite go according to plan, with a series of walkovers bringing them to the semifinals without playing a single point. They lost in the final to Mirza and Barbora Strycova, which also saw Hingis drop the No. 1 ranking to her former doubles partner.

But Mirza-Strycova fell in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, meaning Hingis only needs to win one more match at the US Open to reclaim the top spot. Should she regain it, the Swiss star that she and Vandeweghe have the chemistry as a team that will enable her to keep it.

“I felt that we always had potential. It was just question of being solid for entire sets and entire matches, so it was nice to be able to hold that for 90 minutes today,” said Hingis. “I feel like my role is almost trying to get her to calm down and make her realize that even a shot with 80 percent of what she’s capable of is still a damn good shot.”

Just weeks shy of her 36th birthday, Hingis said she had no plans to stop playing and is still in the peak of her doubles career.

“When you change partners, everybody gets excited. It gives you new energy and new motivation. That’s what keeps you going,” she said. “I love the challenge. Matches like today that are almost perfect … why wouldn’t you keep going?”

Martina Hingis knows how to pick her partners, proving she can be a good asset to just about anyone :).

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