CINCINNATI, OH, USA - World Co-No.1s Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis reached the Western & Southern Open final, but found themselves on opposite sides of the net as Mirza and new partner Barbora Strycova recovered from 5-1 in the opening set to beat Hingis and CoCo Vandeweghe, 7-5, 6-4.
"I'm not going to lie," Mirza said after the match. "It's a very difficult situation. It's not easy because, A, because we are still good friends, so it's never easy. The first we tournament we split and we come and we have to play each other. Of course there is no better match to play than the final, so was difficult, I think. for both of us.
"But having said that we are professional tennis players. We have to come out and we have to give our best and we have to try and win. That's all we can do, and we both tried to do that.
"It was going to happen eventually. We had to play against each other at some point. I think it's better that it happened earlier, as soon as we came out, because next time it's obviously less difficult to play."
Hingis and Mirza were indeed playing their first tournament apart since officially confirming their split last week, and with both women advancing into the championship match, only one could remain No.1 as the points earned this week would be counted among their best results that make up their WTA ranking total.
Not that the notion bothered Mirza.
"As cliche as it sounds, a ranking is really just a number. At the end of the day you have to come out and you have to play your best tennis. That's what we did, and we feel like that's why we won the tournament.
"For us it's important to win every time we play. We both fight; we both like to play and we both like tennis obviously."
In Strycova, Mirza found another great partner, one who'd arrived in Cincinnati having just earned an Olympic bronze medal in women's doubles.
"She was obviously one of my first choices because I felt like we could play well together given our games.
"We know each other. To be honest, we have not been like friends so to say, but we know each other since we were 15 years old. We've always had mutual respect for each other and our games. At least I have had."
"Me too," Strycova added.
Enjoying a career-best season with solid results in both disciplines, the Czech veteran admits she enjoys doubles on both a tactical and emotional level.
"I'm very emotional player. I need the communication. I need to put the emotions away.
"But you have to see the balance when it hurts me or when it or helps me. I'm 30 years old and didn't still find it, but I'm working on it!"
? W&S Open (@CincyTennis) August 21, 2016