New Haven: Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza received a confidence booster ahead of the US Open Grand Slam tournament beginning on Monday with a doubles title victory at the Connecticut Open with Monica Niculescu of Romania here.
Sania and Niculescu capped off their newly rekindled doubles partnership with their first title together with a straight set victory over the duo of Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine and Chuang Chia-Jung of Taiwan in the final. The Indo-Romanian pair won 7-5, 6-4 in the summit clash that lasted one hour and 30 minutes. After pocketing a tough first set 7-5, Sania and Niculescu won a tightly contested second set 6-4 en route to lifting the trophy.
The last time Sania and Niculescu partnered up was way back in 2010, where they joined forces to reach the quarterfinals at the Western and Southern Open. They played that one tournament together before calling time on the partnership. Sania recently parted ways with Swiss Martina Hingis after a hugely successful partnership. She partnered with Barbora Strycova of Czech Republic at the Cincinnati Masters last week and won their debut tournament as a team, by defeating former partner Hingis and American Coco Vandeweghe.
Despite winning a title on their first tournament back together, Sania and Niculescu both made it clear that this partnership is just for the short term and both will return to their regular partners in time for the US Open.
“I play with Barbora Strycova,” said world number one Sania at the post-match press conference last night.
“I play with Vania King. That’s why I said I hope it’s not the last time we going to play together,” Niculescu said.
Talking about teaming up with Sania in this tournament, Niculescu said, “I asked Sania in Cincinnati. I had an idea maybe she wants to play here. I ask her. When she said yes, I was so excited. It seems we won the tournament, so I’m happy I asked her.”
“We know each other for a long time. Also our games kind of suit each other, so you have that confidence. I think it helped we got a couple first easy matches in terms of the way we played. We kind of found our rhythm almost immediately,” said Sania.
Sania and Niculescu opened their Connecticut Open campaign with a commanding straight sets win over American wildcards Alison Riske and Louisa Chirico, then overpowered regular duo Darija Jurak and Anastasia Rodionova in straight sets. They faced a close fight against the No.3 seeded Andreja Klepac and Katarina Srebotnik, squeezing out a comeback, 2-6, 6-3, 10-8, to make it to the final.
“It’s always nice to have the week before a Grand Slam where you’re able to ease up,” Sania said.
“We go to New York and there’s so much happening there.
Here you have nice restaurants and even though we’re in the city, you feel quite quiet around here.
“I was actually not planning on completely playing this week. But when Monica asked me, I thought we could obviously win together.