Wimbledon 2015: Reborn Martina Hingis rolls back the years to claim two titles in two days

 

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The Independent Online

You wait seventeen years for a second Wimbledon title and then two come along at once. A day after winning the ladies doubles with Sania Mirza, Martina Hingis also claimed Wimbledon’s mixed doubles event, with her partner the 42 year old Indian Leander Paes.

Hingis, 34 and Paes, the reigning Australian Open champions, dominated Austrian Alexander Peya and Hungarian Timea Babos, winning 6-1 6-1, in just 40 minutes.

If doubles is your thing, this was one for the ages. Under the lights of the closed Centre Court roof, Hingis and Paes were nothing less than brilliant. They simply couldn’t miss. Just 15 points in total failed to go their way. At one point in the fourth game of the third set, a thunderous smash was crashed into Hingis’s body from point-blank range, which even the slow-motion replays failed fully to explain how it was met with racket and returned for a winner.

It completes a quite extraordinary resurgence for Hingis, 18 years after her solitary win here in the singles, and 17 since she won the doubles in 1998. It was not so long ago that Hingis was playing in the Legends event here, for retired greats, despite being less than a year older than the women’s champion Serena Williams. To return to Wimbledon’s main competitions, and win, has not been done before.

“It was incredible, the chemistry we had today,” Hingis said. It is 16 years since she won any of her five Grand Slam singles titles. “That feels like it’s a lifetime away.”

Paes has now won mixed doubles titles at Wimbledon with both Hingis and in 2003, with Martina Navratilova.

There was one British champion at this year’s Wimbledon. Jordanne Whiley defended her title in the women’s wheelchair doubles, playing alongside Japanese Yui Kamiji. The 23-year-old Whiley has now won six of the last seven Grand Slam doubles events, after beating Dutch pair Jiske Griffioen and Aniek van Koot 6-2 5-7 6-3.

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Great Britain’s Jordanne Whiley, right, celebrates retaining the women’s wheelchair doubles title with Yui Kamiji, of Japan

But Gordon Reid, also 23, and his French partner Michaël Jeremiasz failed to add the Wimbledon wheelchair doubles championship to the French title they won last month – their first Grand Slam victory. The pair lost 5-7 7-5 2-6 to Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina and Frenchman Nicolas Peifer.

From next year Whiley and Reid could win more titles, after Wimbledon announced it will host wheelchair singles for the first time in its history. It is the only Grand Slam event that doesn’t have one.

For years the All England Club has offered various reasons, now revealed to be excuses, for the delay. That the ball doesn’t bounce high enough, that grass is too hard to push and slide on, and that the tough scheduling restrictions make it impossible.

Mikael Ymer, the 17-year-old Swede with Ethiopian roots, was favourite going into the boys’ final. But a 6ft 10in opponent, serving north of 130mph was too much for him. Reilly Opelka took the first set in a tie break, and the second set 6-4. It is a long time since the United States had something to cheer about in the men’s game but this marked the country’s second consecutive junior championship title, after Tommy Paul won in Paris.

It’s curious to talk of a near 7ft teenager as a giant-killer but Opelka defeated four seeds on his way to winning the boys’ competition. He also knocked out No 1 seed, Taylor Fritz. “I got better throughout the whole tournament,” he said. Of the dozens of boys’ champions, only Bjorn Borg, Pat Cash, Stefan Edberg and Roger Federer have gone on to triumph in the men’s tournament. If this young man is to fill the gap that will inevitably open up in a few years, it will mark a return to the game’s old and far less enthralling days.

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