SINGAPORE - No.2 seeds and defending champions Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza won their first match as a pair since splitting in August, defeating Chan Yung-Jan and Chan Hao-Ching, 7-6(10), 7-5, to reach the semifinals at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global and help keep Mirza's hopes of finishing 2016 at World No.1 alive.
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"It's great to be back in Singapore," Mirza said during their on-court interview. "It's also great to be back with Martina, and it's good to get that win."
The team formerly known as "Santina" started the season as the team to beat, riding a 41-match winning streak into the Middle East Swing and winning their third straight Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. Splitting in August, Hingis and Mirza vowed to defend their WTA Finals crown at year's end, and the two were true to their word come Friday afternoon.
"Our bond is what made us so strong, to win those tough points in the past," Hingis said. "No matter how you play, or what's happening on the court, you have to work through the tough moments and get the momentum going. It's been two months since we were last on court together, and it was great to be back out there with Sania."
Across the net were the Chan sisters, who came to Singapore having won their third title of the season at the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open; a formidable team in their own right, they were the last team to beat Hingis and Mirza before they began their aforementioned winning streak, the longest since Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova's 44 in 1990.
The Chans pushed the No.2 seeds into a tense first set tie-break, one that saw each team engineer three set points before the defending champions converted to take the opening set in just over an hour.
"They're a really tough team and we've played them a bunch of times," Mirza said. "But it was so important to win that first set. The momentum was in our favor after that, but it so tough and we had to stay mentally tough. I'm glad we got through."
Edging ahead an early break in the second, Santina appeared on course for a straightforward victory before the No.6 seeds roared back from a 2-4 deficit, winning three games in a row to get within one game of a match tie-break.
Undaunted, Hingis and Mirza won the last three games to advance into their second straight semifinal in Singapore. Awaiting them in the final four will be either Olympic Gold medalists and No.4 seeds, Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, or 2012 WTA Finals runner-ups Andrea Hlavackova or Lucie Hradecka.
Battle For Year-End No.1 Continues
Friday's win keeps Mirza in the hunt to retain her No.1 ranking through the end of the season,
Mirza is up against top seeds Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic along with No.3 seed Bethanie Mattek-Sands, all of whom have a change to take the top spot.
The French must go one round better than Mirza, while Mattek-Sands will have to win the title to unseat the Indian star.
Garcia/Mladenovic and Mattek-Sands (with partner Lucie Safarova) all advanced into the semifinals on Thursday.