'Star of India' Sania attracts media notice
By Arun Kumar
New York, Sep 2 - Sania Mirza's two-hour, 18-minute losing battle in the US Open against Italy's Francesca Schiavone has drawn the attention of tennis writers on the tournament's official website.
'Experience and patience prevailed,' said Aimee Berg, describing the ouster Thursday of what she called the 'Star of India'.
Even though the match featured more unforced errors than winners (78 compared to 64), it was compelling for its 30 break points as well as Mirza herself, Berg said, describing her as a 'controversial Indian teenager'.
The 19-year-old superstar has become a model of female independence back home, Berg said. Her combination of tennis skill and conformity-busting style landed her on the cover of Time magazine as one Asia's 2005 heroes.
Worldwide, she attracted media attention at last year's US Open for showing up for a post-match press conference wearing a shirt that said, 'I'm cute? No S---' (with the letters filled in).
At Wimbledon that year, she wore another shirt that read: 'Well-behaved Women Rarely Make History.'
Back home in Hyderabad, her tennis attire generated a row. According to Time, Islamic clerics issued fatwas censuring Mirza and demanding that she ditch the short shorts.
Here in New York, her garb fit right in but her game was a bit more problematic, Berg said.
In a pre-match column on the US Open official site, tennis writer Matthew Cronin said the Sania-Schiavone contest 'should be a very entertaining match and is a must-see for tennis wonks'.
The Sania phenomenon has died down a little, the writer said, adding she was inconsistent and 'isn't an adept enough on-court thinker'.
Mirza has one of the strongest forehands and a good backhand, but her movement is so-so, her serve is weak, and while she returns very well against the non-elite, she has trouble reading good players serves, he said.
'She needs to be loving her sport to perform well and right now, and she's not. Sania has lost plenty of three-setters this year and is capable of losing another one, but the feeling here after she overpowered Karolina Sprem in the first round is that she'll hit straight Schiavone and win in two sets,' Cronin said.
But that was not to be.