The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Maiden Slam win for Sania
- Teenager moves into TOP-150, to face Hungary's Mandula next

New Delhi: Sania Mirza rewrote Indian tennis history as she registered her first Grand Slam win and stormed into the second round of the women's singles at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Monday.

Sania overcame a first-set loss to down Australia's Cindy Watson 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 in the first round to become only the second Indian woman to win a Grand Slam match.

Nirupama Vaidyanathan was the first to accomplish the feat in 1998 and she too scored her only Grand Slam win at the Australian Open.

It was not exactly flawless tennis from the 18-year old Hyderabad girl who entered the main draw as a wild card which she earned after reaching the women's singles final of the Asian Tennis Championships last year.

Sania hit only 32 winners and had 43 unforced errors including three double faults. She was broken in her first serve of the match and dropped three. But the teenager put it down to nervousness on the big stage and said there was no worries about her form as such.

'I was quite tight in the first set and was also down a break in the second set ... But I was hitting the net and not long or wide,' Sania said from Melbourne.

'Then I concentrated on making her play, and it worked,' said the former Wimbledon girls doubles champion.

From the moment she was down 2-3 in the second set, Sania began to tighten her game. She kept the ball in play, and to her luck, Watson began to make mistakes.

The Indian went up 5-3 with her third break of the set in the eighth game, and from there on, there was no stopping Sania as she reeled off 10 games in a row.

In all, Sania converted seven out of 12 break points as against four out of 13 by Watson, another wild card herself.

The local girl, nine years elder to the Indian and appearing in her home Grand Slam fifth time, wilted under pressure. The set times began to shrink as Sania stepped on the gas, the decider lasting only 26 minutes. She also served the only ace of the match in the last game.

Sania got 34 WTA points for her first-round win and moved into the top-150 in world rankings, another milestone in her fledgling career.

Nirupama, again, was the last Indian woman to be ranked above 150 which was almost eight years ago.

Sania's second-round tie is on Wednesday when she plays Petra Mandula of Hungary.

A win there would most probably pit her against American Serena Williams in the third round.

Email This Page