Martina Hingis partners Leander Paes to the mixed doubles title – beating Daniel Nestor and Kristina Mladenovic 6-4 6-3 – 12 years after Paes won the same trophy with Martina Navratilova.
Twice retired, 16 times a Grand Slam champion: Martina Hingis has a
major title to her name in this third chapter of her career, partnering
Leander Paes to beat Canada’s Daniel Nestor and Kristina Mladenovic of
France, 6-4 6-3.
The Swiss former world No.1, who won seven
Australian Open singles and doubles titles before her first break from
the sport in 2003, collected a second mixed doubles crown in Melbourne
to go with her 2006 triumph, won during her second spell in professional
It is the second time Martina and Leander have lifted the
mixed doubles trophy, only this time the Indian – now a winner of 15
men’s and mixed doubles titles – was partnering the 34-year-old having
won in 2003 with the player she was named after, Martina Navratilova.
– thank you for lending me Leander!” Hingis joked, drawing a smile from
Navratilova in the stands. “I know you won your last (Australian Open)
title together. Not even in my wildest dreams that 20 years later I’d be
standing here again.”
Hingis and Paes opened their campaign
against Australia’s ‘Win a Wildcard’ winners Sam Thompson of Donvale and
Werribee’s Masa Jovanovic. The Melburnians, who went down 6-2 7-6(2),
no doubt took heart from their Swiss-Indian No.7 seeds’ run to the
Defending champions Nestor and Mladenovic had earned their berth the
hard way, beating top seeds Sania Mirza and Bruno Soares in the
semifinals. The final pitted the Canadian and Frenchwoman’s power and
angles against the craft and movement of Hingis and Paes, both showed
great reflexes at net in the opening exchanges.
It took a while
for the Indian to find his best form early on, and a sloppy service game
kept the French-Canadian pair in contention after slipping 3-0 down.
But the No.7 seeds’ i-formation line-up caused plenty of problems for
their opponents, who were driven to distraction by the 41-year-old’s
roving at the net, backed up by some sterling defensive work from
Mladenovic took a wild swing at a backhand drive volley to
hand a set point at 4-5, and Nestor double-faulted to give up the first
set in 29 minutes.
The Frenchwoman profited from a lucky net cord
as her return foxed Paes’ attempted intercept to break for a 2-1 lead
in the second, but the 21-year-old fell to a break in the very next
game. She did Nestor no favours at net in game six with some poor
volleys and in a flash the No.3 seeds were 4-2 down, but Hingis could
not maintain the pressure as the Canadian secured the break back with an
Still, Hingis and Paes were on top, moving
their opponents around the court with some deft touches and fine
returns. When Nestor was unable to protect Mladenovic’s serve in game
eight the writing was on the wall, and Hingis sealed victory with a
backpedalling smash that Mladenovic could not field.