WTA Brisbane: Bethanie Mattek-Sands earns number one spot after defeating Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina with Sania Mirza

WTA Brisbane: Bethanie Mattek-Sands earns number one spot after defeating Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina with Sania Mirza

The former world number one Sania Mirza helped partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands get the top spot and kick herself off the number one spot after they defeated the Russian pairing of Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in the final of the Brisbane International.

don-han
Don Han

The Brisbane International doubles final was a blockbuster match as the top two seeds faced off in the final to get their hands on the trophy. It would be a very important match for the top seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Sania Mirza as a win would get Mattek-Sands the number one ranking in doubles, and would instead kick Mirza off the top of the rankings. It has become a joke amongst the tennis fans recently as they thought the Mirza would be in a dilemma on whether to win the match or lose the match, as a title would ironically take the number one spot away from her. Whereas, for the Russian pairing of Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina shrugged off any disappointments of losing their opening singles matches as they stormed to the final without losing any set. Eventually, the Indo-American won the final in a one-sided affair which got Mattek-Sands the prestigious number one ranking after working so hard for it in the past.

Mattek-Sands and Mirza discuss tactics during a match in 2013 | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe
Mattek-Sands and Mirza discuss tactics during a match in 2013 | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe

Mattek-Sands and Mirza runs away with the first set

A tight start to the first set saw Mirza and Mattek-Sands hold serve in a nervy opening game which saw them save a break point to hold onto their service game. Another tight game followed as Makarova and Vesnina also faced break point opportunities but this time they were unable to save them as the Indo-American pair broke serve to have the early advantage. The Russian pair broke straight back after Mirza and Mattek-Sands were very leaky at the net to gift the break back immediately. The Rio Olympics gold medalist soon went into trouble again as they quickly went down 0-40 in the following game, but this time they were able to save all four break points and hold serve in yet another tight game. Makarova and Vesnina earned a great chance to break and take the lead for the first time in the match when they managed to get yet another break point in the next game, as the solid Mattek-Sands hit a glorious winner at the net to seal up the hold of service. The Russian pair would rue the missed opportunity as Mirza and Mattek-Sands broke serve immediately in the next game to once again regain the advantage and put themselves in an advantageous situation to take the first set. The Indo-American pair eventually took the first set 6-2 after 36 minutes as they broke serve for the third time in the match to be halfway away from the victory.

Vesnina and Makarova at the BNP Paribas Open in 2015 | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images North America
Vesnina and Makarova at the BNP Paribas Open in 2015 | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images North America

Mattek-Sands and Mirza seal up the match

The start of the second set saw Mattek-Sands and Mirza jumping out to a 3-0 lead within a blink of an eye, which included a break of service. The Indo-American pair then almost went up a double break lead, but the WTA Finals champion maintained their composure to hold service by saving three break points in the process. The Russians earned their first break point opportunity of the second set, but a strong serve by Mirza saved them and allowed them to affirm their lead instead. It seemed to be a normal occurrence to hold serve after break points as Makarova and Vesnina held their serves once more to lessen the deficit. The Russians finally got the break that they wanted as they broke back to return the second set on serve and keep them into the match. However, their celebrations were short-lived as they were immediately broken back by the Indo-American pair as they earned the chance to serve out the match and the title. They did just so, as Mirza and Mattek-Sands once again saved two break points to successfully serve out the match after 1 hour and 16 minutes.

Makarova and Vesnina during a match at the Australian Open in 2015 | Photo: Robert Prezioso/Getty Images AsiaPac
Makarova and Vesnina during a match at the Australian Open in 2015 | Photo: Robert Prezioso/Getty Images AsiaPac

Match Statistics

Both teams were very disappointing on their break point conversion rates as the Indo-American only converted five of an impressive 19 break points, and the Russians only converted two of their 11 break points. This meant that the service games of both teams were also very vulnerable, which reflected in the statistics after both pairs won no more than 30 percent of second service points. A big contrast to their semifinal victory where they won 79% of first service points, Makarova and Vesnina won only 54 percent of them in this match, facing break points in every of their service game! What even more impressive for both pairs’ return are that there were break point opportunities in all of the games in the first set, something that most probably did not happen in the history of WTA.

Mirza and Mattek-Sands pose along with their title here at Brisbane in 2013 | Photo: Matt Roberts/Getty Images AsiaPac
Mirza and Mattek-Sands pose along with their title here at Brisbane in 2013 | Photo: Matt Roberts/Getty Images AsiaPac

Impact on the rankings

This title win for Mattek-Sands and Mirza allowed the American to rise to the top of the rankings for the first time in her career, becoming the 10th American in the history to do so since the rankings were introduced. Ironically, Mirza was the one who was kicked off the top spot since she was the defending champion here in Brisbane and could not add any points, whereas Mattek-Sands had nothing to defend, therefore she was able to rise to the top spot.

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