The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sania stuns US Open champ

Calcutta, March 1: Sania Mirza bared her claws once again ' this time to prey on US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, the world No. 6.

In an extraordinary display of courage and skill, the world No. 97 turned the Dubai Open second-round match on its head to win 6-4, 6-2 and book a place in the quarter finals.

Literally down and out for the count after falling and twisting her ankle five minutes into the match, the teenager from Hyderabad was back on court after a prolonged injury time-out, her foot heavily strapped.

It looked curtains for Sania as she limped her way to a 0-4 deficit. Then came the magical turnaround.

'We all thought she was gone. Then, she started blasting winners from the backcourt left, right and centre' it was an amazingly gutsy performance,' said former Davis Cupper Zeeshan Ali who was among 5,000-odd Indians cheering for Sania in a packed centre court.

'The crowd just went berserk. Leander and Mahesh had generated a lot of interest in their heyday as a doubles team, but this was quite different,' said Zeeshan, who has been working with Sania since she landed in Dubai last weekend.

'I just don't have words to describe this one' this girl never ceases to surprise me,' said Mahesh Bhupathi from Delhi, ruing that he had to miss the match to be on Davis Cup duty.

'She has been injured since January' well, if this is the tennis she produces, let her be injured throughout the year,' said Sania's mentor.

With a bagful of bonus points for this win over a top-10 player, Sania should climb to around world No. 75, even if her winning run ends at this stage.

No one, though, would bet against her anymore. She gets a day's break before facing the winner of the match between Italian Silvia Farina Elia and Croatian Jelena Jankovic on Thursday.

Beginning the year at world No. 166, Sania has transformed her career and Indian sport in a span of six to seven weeks.

Beginning at the Australian Open, where she became the first Indian woman to reach the third round of a Grand Slam, through the memorable week in Hyderabad, Sania has whipped up tennis mania in a cricket-crazy country.

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