Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis, the top seeded doubles team in the women’s circuit bowed out of the BNP Paribas Open in the second round losing to Vania King and Alla Kudryavtseva. Sania and Hingis were the defending champions and were favourites to lift the crown for a second year running.
Sania and Martina or Santina as they are now fondly known as, couldn’t have asked for a worse way to celebrate what is their anniversary of sorts, having paired up for the first time in early March for this very same tournament. The scoreboard read 7-6, 6-4 and thus marked Santina’s first straight-sets loss since last summer. Vania King, a doubles veteran having lifted successive doubles crowns in 2010 at Wimbledon and the US Open, came into the game with a plan and it worked like a charm.
“We had a game plan and I feel like we executed it really well," King, who won back-to-back Grand Slam titles with Yaroslava Shvedova at the 2010 Wimbledon and US Open, said after the match. "We tried to take control of the points and not let them dictate the match play, and I think we did that really well. That's why we won," said the 27-year old American.
The match was played at a frantic pace from the start with both teams getting break points in the first four games but unable to convert. The fifth game, however, saw the Santina pairing blink first, surrendering serve to the King-Kuryavtseva pair. But the American-Russian pair returned the favour in the very next game, despite saving two break points. With both teams holding their nerve and serve till 5-5, Santina blinked again and looked to have lost the set with King serving for the set at 6-5. But a flurry of good returns by both Mirza and Hingis meant the set would be decided in a tiebreaker. Santina stormed into a 5-1 lead in the tiebreak and held 3 set points at 6-3, but could not close the set out as King and Kudryavtseva fought back valiantly to not only erase Santina’s advantage but also win the tiebreak 9-7.
The second set was more straight forward with both sides trading breaks, and with the Indo-Swiss pair losing serve twice in succession, King-Kudryavtseva held on to to their serve to establish a lead, going onto win the second set 6-4 ending Santina’s hopes of securing a second title at the desert.