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Sania makes second round exit from Australian Open


Melbourne : Indian Sania Mirza’s challenge in the Australian Open singles was over in mere 70 minutes with a 3-6, 2-6 loss to 10th seed Russian Nadia Petrova in the second round here Wednesday.

The Indian, who is making a comeback after undergoing a wrist injury, must be ruing the lost opportunities as she failed to snare Petrova’s serve even once, squandering all her three break points.

Petrova, a quarterfinalist here in 2006, broke Sania’s serve in the fourth game of the first set to jump to a 3-1 lead.

However, the 22-year-old Hyderabadi dictated play for most of the set and did well to save a break point to edge closer to the Russian at 3-5. But the Russian took the first set with a forceful backhand winner.

In the second set Petrova, World No.11, was in complete control and moved Sania all around the court. A combination of four aces, five points won at the net and three forehand winners saw her easily clinch the set and match.

The unseeded Indian also made the Russian do some running around with some stunning double-handed backhand winners. But Sania lacked consistency and failed to maintain the intensity.

Sania’s weak serve also went against her. She, however, did manage to serve two aces but was aced seven times in return by her big serving opponent. In crunch situations, the Russian held her nerve and served extremely well to thrash the Indian.

However, it was heartening to see Sania come at the net more often and winning 80 percent of the points.

The loss has not dampened the Hyderabadi’s spirit who will now partner American Vania King in the doubles and in the mixed doubles will team up with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi.

“I am disappointed but I am going to take the positives from it. I am still to play doubles and looking forward to play mixed doubles where I was the finalist last year,” Sania said after the match.

“I did not play outstandingly but it was not a bad match. I did not create opportunities. I need to have more match play to become sharper at the court. But I could not have asked for a better start after coming back from an injury. I won a match in a Grand Slam!”

Sania and Petrova before Wednesday were head-to-head on two previous occasions. Sania secured their 2005 clash in San Diego, while Petrova triumphed at Wimbledon in 2007.

Petrova in the third round will play Kazakhstan’s Galina Voskoboeva, who won 6-4, 6-1 against Karin Knapp.