The world’s top tennis team of Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis had not lost a match since last August in Cincinnati. But their 41-match winning run came to a sudden halt at the hands of Russian duo Elena Vesnina and Daria Kasatkina with the Indo-Swiss top seeds losing 6-2, 4-6, 5-10 in the women’s doubles quarter-final of the $2.8 million Qatar Total Open here on Thursday.
An accomplished doubles player, Elena won her most recent Grand Slam doubles title over Martina at the 2014 US Open when the Swiss partnered Flavia Pennetta. That script flipped in dramatic fashion less than a year later at Wimbledon after Martina paired up with Sania — the two roaring back from a 2-5 final set deficit to beat Elena and long time partner Ekaterina Makarova for their first Major title.
"That was an amazing match for us. We played against them just a week ago, and they’re one of the greatest doubles teams we have in women’s tennis. Everything worked for us to win and we’re just so excited about it. We changed our tactics a little bit in the second set and we saw that it started to work," Elena said after the match which lasted an hour and 18 minutes.
"We stuck to this game plan and were a little bit lucky on some points, but it’s always like this in doubles with deciding points. Dasha played really well on key moments. She just went for her shots and made a lot of good volleys, so we’re really pleased and proud about this win."
Daria added: "It’s unbelievable for me. Something huge because it’s just my third WTA doubles tournament and we beat Sania and Martina. For me, it’s something unbelievable."
Nicknamed SanTina by their followers, the top seeds’ historic streak began two months after their Wimbledon triumph at the US Open, which would be the first of nine straight titles as a team, including the China Open, WTA Finals Singapore, Sydney International, a third Major title at the Australian Open and, most recently the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy where they beat Elena and Daria in straight sets in the quarterfinals.
"We were surprised that so many people came to watch. The court was packed. Most of the people were cheering for Martina and Sania, which is normal. It actually worked well for us. We were enjoying this atmosphere on the court. It felt like we were playing a final," Vesnina said.
Had they won a 10th title in Doha, Sania and Martina would have tied Jana Novotna and Natasha Zvereva for the longest winning streak since 1990 at 44 match wins, but still had a long way to go before catching Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver, who amassed 109 straight wins between 1983 and 1985.