DOHA, Qatar - Co-No.1 doubles team Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza had not lost a match since last August at the Western & Southern Open, but their 41-match winning streak came to a sudden halt at the hands of Russian duo Elena Vesnina and Daria Kasatkina, 2-6, 6-4, 10-5.
An accomplished doubles player, Vesnina won her most recent Grand Slam doubles title over Hingis at the 2014 US Open, when the Swiss Miss was still partnered with Flavia Pennetta. That script would flip in dramatic fashion less than a year later at Wimbledon after Hingis paired up with Mirza; the two roared back from a 2-5 final set deficit to beat Vesnina and longtime partner Ekaterina Makarova for their first major title.
"That was an amazing match for us," Vesnina said after the match. "We played against them just a week ago, and they're one of the greatest doubles teams we have in women's tennis. I think everything worked today for us to win, and we're just so excited about it.
"We changed our tactics a little bit in the second set, and we saw that it started to work. We stuck to this game plan, and were a little bit lucky on some points, but it's always like this in doubles with deciding points. Dasha played really well on key moments. She just went for her shots and made a lot of good volleys today, so we're really pleased and proud about this win."
"It's unbelievable for me," Kasatkina added, "something huge because it's just my third WTA doubles tournament and we beat Sania and Martina. For me, it's something unbelievable."
Santina's historic streak began two months after their Wimbledon triumph at the US Open, which would be the first of nine straight titles as a team, including the China Open, the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, the Apia International Sydney, a third major title at the Australian Open and, most recently, the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy - where they beat Vesnina and Kasatkina in straight sets in the quarterfinals.
"We were surprised that so many people came to watch," Vesnina said. "The court was packed; most of the people were cheering for Martina and Sania, which is normal. It actually worked well for us; we were enjoying this atmosphere on the court. It felt like we were playing a final."
"It was a full house!" Kasatkina said with a laugh.
Had they won a 10th title in Doha, Hingis and Mirza would have tied Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova for the longest winning streak since 1990 at 44 match wins, but still had a ways to go before catching Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver, who amassed 109 straight matches between 1983 and 1985.