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Hingis & Mirza Enjoy Reunion Victory, Ease Past Chan Sisters At WTA Finals

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

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.

Watch interviews and highlights from Singapore on the WTA Facebook page!

“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.

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Insider Reacts: Three Things From Muguruza's Redemptive Win Over Kuznetsova

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

SINGAPORE – Garbiñe Muguruza ended her breakout season with one last win at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, ousting an on-fire Svetlana Kuznetsova and blitzing the Russian in the final two sets of a 3-6, 6-0, 6-1 victory.

Read how the match unfolded in the WTA Insider Live Blog.

– Muguruza wanted this win.

For a player who won their first Grand Slam and ascended to a career-high ranking of No.2 just four months ago, few eyes were on Muguruza heading into Singapore.

“I suffered a lot in the last month,” she said in her post-match press conference. “I was wondering if I’m going to qualify, if I’m not going to qualify. I really wanted to qualify.

“I had the opportunity to go to Linz to play, and then I twisted my ankle and it was drama for me.”

The drama continued at the WTA Finals; down a set to Karolina Pliskova in her first round robin match, the Spaniard roared back and got perilously close to victory, only to lose the last five games.

“It was a very tough tournament. I had a match point in my first match; then the second match [against Agnieszka Radwanska] was tough.”

Mathematically out of contention to advance into the semifinals, there was little more pressure on Muguruza than the amount she put on herself.

“I have to be honest. Going into this match, it was extremely hard for me. Minutes before I was like, ‘This is going to be is difficult one for me.’

“At the end it was about my desire of wanting to be here and competing against the best. It became a challenge for me today, to see how I was going to react.”

Losing a decisive first set to Kuznetsova, who already qualified first in their round robin group, the reigning Roland Garros winner reacted well, dropping just one more game and hitting 31 winners to end her week with a 1-2 record.

“For sure a victory like today’s is going to keep me a little bit happier. I felt I took my opportunities in this one. Well, it was too late, but I still did it!”

A season of ups and downs put extra emphasis on an ostensibly low-stakes match; from her emotional reaction on court and in press, it was clear how much the win meant to her.

Fatigue finally caught up with Kuznetsova.

The Russian had already advanced into the semifinals. For the first time in two weeks, she didn’t need to win a match to keep her season alive. Kuznetsova pointed to that inherent lack of intensity as being crucial to the loss on Friday.

“I’ve done the most important job in the past matches,” she said after the match. “You definitely don’t want to lose a match. You try to fight.

“Sometimes the lack of energy just won’t let you do that.”

Still, she noted her superb level of tennis in the first set, and how it only took a few tight games in the second set to turn things towards the Spaniard.

“I want to give credit to Garbine because I think she played way better in the second and third set.

“I don’t feel exhausted like that or something. But of course, to push yourself to the limit, you got to really go hard. I just want to do it tomorrow, try to do my best.”

She’ll have her opportunity tomorrow in the semifinal, where she takes on another surprise semifinalist in Dominika Cibulkova. Trailing 3-5 in their head-to-head, Kuznetsova’s lost her last five matches with the Slovak, including a three-set thriller at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open.

“I do remember quite a bit of that match. I know I will try to make the changes on what I think didn’t work for me in that match.

“Of course, obviously, I’m not going to tell it now,” she added with a smile.

– Muguruza is looking towards 2017.

It may be too soon for any player to sum up their season right after their last match, but Muguruza had a clear picture of what went right and wrong in 2016.

“I started the year thinking, ‘Okay, this is an important year for me. I finished well last year. Let’s try to keep doing well.’

“But the results weren’t there at the beginning, so I was like struggling. I was like, ‘Man, I’m practicing and doing everything and I am not winning matches.’ So it created a lot of frustration.

“I calmed down and then finally had the results, but then everything changed. All these responsibilities, all these emotions. It was hard for me to deal with this for the next tournaments. But I wouldn’t change anything, obviously.”

She’ll have to spend the off-season adjusting to what she cannot change, but after a heavily scheduled season, the former World No.2 will be looking to relax over the next few weeks.

“I didn’t really plan things because I didn’t know when I was going to finish here. Right now I’m just going to see how many days I have, see where can I go, who’s available.”

What she hopes will emerge will be the “dangerous opponent” she believes herself to be.

“I don’t really care who’s in front of me. Obviously the situation and the tournament, these can affect me, but I always think I have a chance to win.”

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Makarova & Vesnina Safely Into Singapore SFs, Hingis & Mirza Await

Makarova & Vesnina Safely Into Singapore SFs, Hingis & Mirza Await

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

SINGAPORE – No.4 seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina withstood a late fightback to defeat Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka and take their place in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.

Watch interviews and highlights from Singapore on the WTA Facebook page!

A break in the penultimate game of the match allowed the Russians to close out a 6-2, 7-5 victory, setting up a showdown with defending champions, Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza.

Makarova and Vesnina have been one of the form teams in the second half of 2016, winning Olympic gold and reaching the US Open semifinals, and their confidence was apparent from the off, threatening an immediate break with some typically forceful net play. In the end, the breakthrough owed more to good fortune, Hlavackova getting her feet in a muddle after Vesnina scraped a return back.

They made the most of this stroke of luck, forging ahead before Makarova closed out the first set with an ace down the middle.

The second set proved o be far more competitive. But just as a tie-break loomed, the gold medalists struck, Makarova swatting the ball away after wrong-footing Hradecka with the initial volley. Serving for the match, Makarova made no mistake, swinging a serve out wide on match point before calmly finding the open court.

“It’s bouncing so low, so we need to stay down and in the second set we had some tough moments,” Makarova said in her on-court interview with Andrew Krasny. “In the end, I said to Lena, ‘Let’s stay as low as we can all the time!'”

Runners-up three years ago, they will next take on the defending champions, Hingis and Mirza. Despite the high stakes, Vesnina is not envisaging a change in approach: “We’re obviously having fun on and off the court. Even if someone has a bad moment, we’re trying to support and it gives us so much help knowing we have this support.”

Official WTA Finals Mobile App, Created by SAP

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