Mirza Mania Delights In Dubai
Mirza Mania Delights In Dubai
Photo By Susan Mullane By Sarah Alvanipour
Sania Mirza surprised herself, stirred spectators and shocked Svetlana Kuznetsova in the process. The 18-year-old from India created the chain-reaction of responses, not only in rallying from a 0-4 deficit to earn a riveting 6-4, 6-2 victory over the reigning U.S. Open champion to reach the Dubai Duty Free Women's Open quarterfinals, but by continuing to play after spraining her left ankle minutes into the match.
Trailing 0-2 in the opening set, Mirza collapsed over her left ankle and tumbled to the ground, drawing a collective sigh from the predominantly Indian crowd which was on hand to cheer its national hero. A trainer was called to attend to the youngest player in the draw, re-taping the problem ankle, which had forced Mirza to decline a wild card into Doha after she made history as the first Indian woman to claim a WTA Tour title with her victory in Hyderabad last month.
The sixth-ranked Kuznetsova held her serve and broke Mirza once again to take a 4-0 lead before the momentum of the match shifted indefinitely. The 96th-ranked player in the world went on to break the reigning US Open champion three times, reeling off six consecutive games to claim the first set 6-4 in 46 minutes.
The muscular Russian, who continued to spray balls beyond the baseline, was broken again in the opening service game of the second set, but broke back to level the set before being broken again. Though she struggled with her serve, Mirza’s penetrating ground strokes, particularly the crisp two-handed backhand kept her bid for a quarterfinal berth alive.
Empowered by a boisterous and enthusiastic crowd, Mirza boldly continued to pound penetrating shots into the corners to build a 5-2 lead.
Serving for the match in the eighth game, Mirza had to dig out of a 0-40 deficit and save five break points to earn her first match point. When Kuznetsova’s backhand found the middle of the net, it sent Mirza to the quarters and the crowd to its feet. Mirza will meet Jelena Jankovic for a spot in the final four. Jankovic beat Italian Silvia Farina Elia, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 the day after Farina Elia disposed of fifth-seeded Venus Williams.
Daniela Hantuchova dumped another seed from the Dubai draw in defeating Olympic bronze medallist and No. 6 seed Alicia Molik 7-6, 6-2 in her Dubai debut. The Slovak will face Russian Elena Likhovtseva, a 2-6, 6-2, 7-6(5) victor over wild card Selima Sfar, in the second round.
In other results: Chinese qualifier Jie Zheng beat Anabel Medina Garrigues, 7-6(4), 6-2; seventh-seeded French woman Nathalie Dechy defeated Russian qualifier Vera Douchevina, 6-7(1), 6-4, 7-6(4); qualifier Na Li beat Japan's Ai Sugiyama, 1-6, 7-6(4), 6-2; Elena Bovina outlasted Francesca Schiavone, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4; and Marion Bartoli beat Gisela Dulko, 6-4, 6-4.
The top three seeds — Lindsay Davenport, Serena Williams, and Anastasia Myskina — highlight second-round action tomorrow.
For the latest results, please visit the Dubai Tennis Championships web site.