SYDNEY, Jan 14 (IANS): Top seeds Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis survived a scare to win their 29th consecutive match and enter the women's doubles final of the Sydney International here on Thursday.
The Indo-Swiss tennis pair won a rain-interrupted semi-final 4-6, 6-3, 10-8 in one hour and 32 minutes to beat Romanian-Kazakh pairing of Raluca Olaru and Yaroslava Shvedova on Court 1 of the NSW Tennis Centre.
In the process, they eclipsed the 22-year-old record set by American-Belarusian pair of Gigi Fernandez and Natasha Zvereva, who won 28 consecutive matches in 1994. Sania and Martina have now begun to chase the world record which was set in 1990 by the dynamic Czech duo of Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova, who won a whopping 44 matches in a row.
"Today the girls we were playing, they were playing probably the best I've seen them play. Slava has won Slams, before Olaru was playing really well. We had to really put everything that we had and really come out with our A Game when we needed to, especially in that super tie-break," said Sania.
"It's not like because we been winning so much we take it for granted really. We try every time. We're the hunted. Everyone plays their best against us, and we have to keep playing our best as well to win," she added.
The world's top ranked pair are now eyeing their second title win of the year after clinching the Brisbane International crown last week. They claimed nine titles last year en route to becoming the top ranked women's doubles team, the highlight being wins at the Wimbledon and US Open.
On Thursday, the top pair, dubbed 'SanTina' by their fans, were trailing by a set, lost 4-6, and were down 1-2 in the second set when rain intervened. That helped them turn the tables upon resumption as they fought back to overturn the deficit and claim the second set 6-3 and utilised their experience to claim the decider narrowly 10-8.
The win was viewed by the ecstatic pair as an ideal preparation for their Australian Open ambitions, starting next week, which will be their third straight Grand Slam triumph if they win it. They have not lost a match since the Cincinnati Masters last year.
"This is something that I dreamed about and was hoping for. I can only say it over and over again. It's something that it's a priority also. When I was playing singles, singles was priority. I became No.1 there. Also simultaneously I was No.1 in both," said Martina.
"Now I put 100 or 120 percent into this, and that's what makes us this great doubles. The chemistry is amazing. We don't always play super tennis, but we come out and find a solution, that's what makes us right now the best doubles in the world."
In men's doubles, Sania's compatriot Rohan Bopanna, partnering Romanian Florin Mergea, defeated Australians Sam Groth and John Peers 6-2, 6-4 in 57 minutes to enter the semi-final.