New Partner, Old Trophy: Can Sania Defend Australian Open Title?

Sania Mirza will be playing the women’s doubles with Czech tennis player Barbora Strycova. 

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2 min read
(Photo: AP)

After the big split with her doubles partner Martina Hingis in 2016, Sania Mirza dived into the new year with a new partner. The former world number one will be seen competing in the Australia Open with Czech tennis player Barbora Strycova starting on 16 January.

While Sania is the defending champion of the Australian Open women’s doubles title, her chances this time round look grim, mainly because:

  1. She will not be competing with her then-partner Martina Hingis
  2. She hasn’t won any slam since the Australia Open in Australia 2016

Sania’s Purple Patch with Martina Hingis & Then the Lull

Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis first “struck a deal” to play as doubles partners in February 2015. A deadly combination, the two took the world of doubles tennis by storm. In their 16-month long partnership they won 14 titles, including three Majors and a 41-match winning streak, cementing their place as the world number one doubles pair.

However, in the last five months of their partnership, their performance had slumped. In nine tournaments between March and August 2016, the two managed to win only one title (Rome) while reaching the final of only two others. Subsequently the pair decided to split in August 2016.

New Partner, No New Slams

After the split, Mirza partnered with Barbora Strycova at the Cincinnati Masters, and the pair won their debut tournament as a team. She won the next tournament at New Haven with Monica Niculescu but went back to playing with Strycova. The duo, however, failed to shine.

While she has reached the quarters of the Wimbledon singles, Barbora’s track record in doubles has been inconsistent. She achieved her career-best ranking of world number 14 in 2011 and currently stands at number 17. The Czech tennis player has never reached the finals of a grand slam doubles event but was the bronze medallist in the doubles tournament of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Together, Mirza and Strycova have only reached the US Open quarters, losing at Wuhan and Beijing.

Even when Mirza paired with her old partner Martina Hingis for the WTA Finals in Singapore, the two were eliminated in the semifinals, depicting a major loss in performance.

In the run-up to the Australian Open which was she is supposed to play with Barbora, Sania for some reason switched partners for one tournament. She competed and won the Brisbane International with American tennis player Bethanie Mattek-Sands on 7 January 2017.

However, the Indian lost her world number one ranking to her partner (Bethanie Mattek-Sands), for the first time since 2015.

Just three days before the open, Barbora and Sania lost the Sydney International final, showing that the chances of them winning the Australian Open title are bleak.

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