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Is Leander Paes responsible for ‘Santina split’?

It is an unexpected news for Indian tennis that Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis have decided to end their astonishing partnership which took the tennis world by storm last year when they won nine titles including the year-end WTA Championship.

Sania and the Swiss great began their partnership last year in March with a bang, winning three titles on the trot -at Indian Wells, Miami, and Charleston. Sania became world number one in partnership with Martina when they won the Charleston event. Sania also enjoyed her first ever women’s doubles Grand Slam title by winning the Wimbledon in the company of Martina. Later, the pair also won the 2015 US Open.

Reports suggest Hingis will play with Coco Vandeweghe of the United States while Mirza will team up with Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic. The 24-year-old Vandeweghe brings new energy to the partnership and the duo is likely to compete together in the US Open.

Hingis and Mirza have had differences over their mixed doubles run-ins. Hingis partners Leander Paes in mixed while Mirza plays with Croatian Ivan Dodig. Their last two encounters have been evenly split. While Mirza and Dodig prevailed in the quarters of the Australian Open, Paes and Hingis got their own back by beating them to win the French Open title in a close match.

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Sources say that Hingis was not happy after the French loss and that reflected in their interactions. The Swiss player has been pivotal in the recent success of both Mirza and Paes on the doubles tour. Mirza reached the top spot in the rankings after they won the Family Circle Cup last April, becoming the first Indian woman to do so. Paes and Hingis have completed a career Grand Slam in mixed doubles as partners.

The Santina split was confirmed by a source close to Mirza. “Yes, the partnership is over. They have not got the desired results in last five months. You see, they have lost to players outside the top-100 and it reflects that something is wrong. But this is a regular (phenomenon); you can change partners if results are not coming,” the source said.

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But it is far from clear what may have led to the end of the partnership. Pairs as successful as Mirza and Hingis hardly split over things such as short-term results. But neither side has formally spoken out on the split which, sources in the Indian tennis team said, had been sought by the former world singles champion.

Hingis has been the pivotal factor in the recent successes of both Mirza and Leander Paes. The unhinging of the Santina combo could well see a major impact on Mirza’s world ranking.

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