London: India’s Sania Mirza made a winning start to her Wimbledon campaign, beating Japan’s Akiko Morigami in three sets to move into the second round at the All-England Club here Monday.
Sania, thus, became the first Indian woman to reach the second round at Wimbledon.
Sania, 75th on the latest ranking list (down three places from her standing last week because of her early exits in pre-Wimbledon meets), beat Morigami, ranked four places above her, 6-3, 3-6, 8-6 in the opening match on court 17 in nearly two hours.
The Indian ace, who Indians hope will be able to repeat his Australia Open performance here, received majority crowd support from courtside.
The 18-year-old from Hyderabad, who advanced to the third round of Australian Open this year before losing to eventual winner Serena Williams, will now play sixth seed and US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, who hammered local girl Rebecca Llewellyn 6-0, 6-1.
Kuznetsova will now be aiming to avenge her surprise defeat by the Indian in Dubai earlier this year.
Sania, however, felt: “Kuznetsova will be under pressure, because that defeat in Dubai will be at the back of her mind.
“Against her, I will have to convert those points, which I missed today. I need to concentrate well and rectify today’s mistakes. I want to give my best on the day,” Sania added.
Sania further felt that had she got a few of the breaks against Morigami, she could have clinched the match earlier.
About her ankle, Sania said that it was holding up pretty well.
After overpowering Akiko to win the first set, Sania was on the defensive in the second set with Morigami breaking the Indian in the eighth game to go 5-3 up.
But Sania immediately hit back forcing two break points in the next game, though in the end Morigami made it one-all converting her third set point.
Sania began the third set on the wrong footing as Akiko forced three break points. Though the Indian managed to make it 30-40 the Japanese made full use of her third chance to take an early advantage in the decider.
Sania tried her best in the next game forcing a number of break points but Akiko managed to hold serve and go 2-0 up.
However, Sania was in no mood to let thing go awry, as she first held serve and then broke right back to even the set at 2-2 forcing three break points on the Japanese’s serve.
Akiko made it 4-2 only for the counter-punching Indian to claw back to 4-4 forcing another break. The scoreline than read 6-6 when Sania made things difficult for her opponent as she held her serve before breaking Akiko’s serve to clinch the issue. (Agencies)