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Historic 2015 for Sania, Yuki raises hopes in men’s tennis


 New Delhi : Sania Mirza savoured a historic 2015 as she became the first female player from India to win a women’s doubles Grand Slam title on way to becoming world number one even as Yuki Bhambri presented himself in a new ‘avtar’, raising hopes on the otherwise barren singles circuit.

Season took a dramatic turn for Sania when she teamed up with Swiss great Martina Hingis in March. Sania’s powerful game from the back of the court and Martina’s agility and manouvering at the net made them almost invincible.

The partnership proved a master stroke as they have become a very strong force with opponents yet to find an antidote to their superiority.

From the very first event, they had sounded out a warning by pocketing the Indian Wells title and till the end of the season, the rival teams were struggling to find out how to beat them.

The win at Charleston, their third in a row, catapulted Sania to top of the ranking table and from then onwards she is firmly holding on to the coveted spot.

At the end of 2015 season, the two had won nine titles together including the prestigious Wimbledon and US Open apart from the year-end WTA Finals.

In 16 events played together, Sania and Martina — named ‘SanTina’ by fans — they were an astonishing 55-7.

It may be argued that achievements in the doubles had no comparison to success in singles but we must not forget that it took India 15 years to find the next player who could assert supremacy in world tennis even if it was on the doubles circuit, which has its own challenges.

Before Sania, only Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi had achieved the top rank when they were a dominant force in men’s doubles in the late 90s.

In all, Sania won 10 titles in 2015 — nine with Martina and one with American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

The win at the Wimbledon took a big monkey off Sania’s back as till then she had won only mixed doubles trophies at Major events.

The 2016 calendar will be very challenging for the Indian super star as she will be defending a lot of points requiring her to be even more consistent. The opponents will come better-prepared to counter the Indo-Swiss pair.

In the men’s tennis, it looked like that Delhi boy Yuki had reinvented himself. The promise he had shown years back in his junior days, was finally coming to fore.

It was a breakthrough year for him as he broke into top-100 singles chart for the first time, ensuring that he will get direct entry in the Grand Slams even as Somdev Devvarman’s steep fall remained a worry for fans.

India’s ‘ageless wonder’ Leander Paes continued to gather laurels for himself by winning three mixed doubles titles with none other than Martina.

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