WTA Finals 2015

Tennis: At 35, Martina Hingis savours sweet WTA Finals Singapore doubles triumph with Sania Mirza

This year's standout women's doubles pairing of Martina Hingis (left) and Sania Mirza once again stamped their class on the WTA Finals. The duo will take a vacation before they tackle the Australian Open in January.
This year's standout women's doubles pairing of Martina Hingis (left) and Sania Mirza once again stamped their class on the WTA Finals. The duo will take a vacation before they tackle the Australian Open in January.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Hingis and Mirza stroll to an easy doubles victory over their static Spanish rivals in the final

Cupcake in hand, Sania Mirza could finally afford to end her two-month gluten-free diet as she savoured the sweet treat.

The proof was not in the pudding but on the table in front of her, the huge Martina Navratilova doubles trophy serving as an exclamation point for what has been a stunning campaign for Mirza and her partner Martina Hingis.

The Indian-Swiss duo joined forces in March and have been 2015's standout doubles team. Their victory in the WTA Finals yesterday was their ninth title, including two Grand Slams (Wimbledon and US Open), together and their most dominant performance in a final.

The top seeds lost just three games in a one-sided 6-0, 6-3 rout of Spaniards Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro and picked up the winners' cheque of US$500,000 (S$700,000) in the prestigious year-ender.

It was their 22nd straight win and they finished the season with a 55-7 record.

Said Hingis, 35, who collected the 50th doubles title of her career: "I don't want to sound cocky but we've been thrown different things at us and we were always able to find a winning formula and a solution."

Added Mirza, 28: "It's about finding those gears. When someone goes into fourth gear, we try and find that fifth gear."

Against the static eighth seeds in a near full-house Singapore Indoor Stadium, they did not need to get out of first gear.

The world No. 1 pairing were ruthlessly efficient in the first set, converting all their three break-point chances and required only 23 minutes - less time than it took one spectator to finish his box of popcorn - to take the lead.

There was simply no time to settle, said Muguruza, the world No. 3 in singles. "When they play like that, you have to accept that today they were better than us... like Carla said, they're No. 1 for a reason," she added with a wry smile.

Hingis and Mirza's rise to the top has been founded on classic doubles attributes - a telepathic understanding of each other's game and relying on both strategy and strength to pick apart their rivals.

Despite averaging 59 per cent on their first serves (compared to Muguruza and Suarez Navarro's 72 per cent), they won 74 per cent of the points while their opponents managed just 38 per cent.

It was almost two-thirds into the 66-minute encounter before the Spanish team finally got onto the scoreboard in the ninth game, breaking Hingis' serve for 1-2.

But they could not capitalise and a net volley by Mirza gave her side the initiative again.

They wasted three match points before an errant Muguruza backhand on the fourth ended the contest. Mirza dropped her racket and raised her hands in triumph before embracing Hingis, whose last appearance in the tour championship doubles final was in 2000.

As good as the last eight months have been for Mirza and Hingis, the secret to their dominance has been nothing revolutionary.

Said Hingis: "It doesn't fall from heaven. We didn't always have perfect moments. Yeah, we click but we also push each other. That's been the key to our success."

A third straight Major title - at January's Australian Open in Melbourne - is next on their sights.

But the immediate priority is to find a pool or a beach, said Hingis with a chuckle.

"I think we deserve a little vacation," she added with a knowing glance towards her team-mate during the post-match press conference, showing the chemistry that the duo share.

"I've already started," came the reply from Mirza, in between mouthfuls of the cupcake.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2015, with the headline 'Cakewalk for top seeds'. Print Edition | Subscribe