Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Sania crashes out of Aus Open

Sania Mirza crashed out of the singles event of the Australian Open after suffering a 3-6 2-6 hammering at the hands of Russian 10th seed Nadia Petrova in the second round in Melbourne on Wednesday.

The Indian ace, who is making a comeback to the competitive tennis after a long injury lay-off, squandered break points in both the sets to see early curtains on her campaign.

With Sania's defeat, Indian challenge ended in the singles action in the first Grand Slam of the year.

Cashing in on little mistakes of big players is imperative to tame them but the Indian player missed on those chances in both the sets.

The unseeded Indian did show some improvement in her ground strokes as she hit some stunning double-handed backhand winners but failed to maintain the intensity.

Petrova, world number 11, on the other hand whenever faltered, had a very strong game to bail out herself.

Sania had her first breakpoint -- earned through a beautiful service return winner -- in the third game of the first set but Petrova served well to save the game, which she completed by hitting an ace.

It was now turn of Sania to face a breakpoint, which she offered by hitting a forehand long, and the Russian gleefully accepted that to go up 3-1.

Petrova consolidated the lead to 4-1 by holding her serve in the next game and the set went on serve from there in favour of the Russian.

Sania engaged her opponent in long rallies, did show that she had a plan to set up points, but lacked in execution.

Petrova was calm in the crunch situation and held her nerves to ward off the danger.

Again in the second set, it was Sania who had early chance to break Petrova when she had two breakpoints in the fourth game.

But the Russian raised her game by a few notches and served extremely well to deny the Indian any chance to make a comeback to the match.

Petrova then break Sania in the fifth and seventh games to create a 5-2 lead and served out the set and match with the help of a couple of aces.

Sania now will play in women's doubles with American Vania King and in mixed doubles with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi.

With a Grand Slam title under her belt, an ecstatic Sania Mirza on Monday returned home, promising to add many more to the mixed doubles trophy she won alongside Mahesh Bhupathi in the Australian Open.

"It's a great way to come back, especially what happened in the last six-seven months," Sania, the first Indian woman to win a Grand Slam title, said after landing here with Bhupathi on Monday morning.

Sania had battled a career-threatening wrist injury last year which kept her out of action for most of the season.

Asked about her future plans, an elated Sania told reporters waiting for her at the airport "I am happy to win my first Grand Slam and there are many more to go."

The 22-year-old Hyderabadi was ousted by Nadia Petrova in he women's singles second round of the season's first Grand Slam, and came a cropper in doubles too.

But more than made up for it in the mixed doubles event. ania and Bhupathi, who were the runners-up last year, bettered their performance to become the first all-Indian pair to win the title.

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