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Old Feb 11th, 2005, 04:17 PM   #31
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Sania in semis and historyFirst Indian to enter WTA last four after typical gutsy 3-set win



HYDERABAD, FEBRUARY 10: Sania Mirza continued her winning streak on home turf but there was a special twist to today’s proceedings: by beating Israel’s Tzipora Oblizer 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5), she became the first Indian to reach the semi-finals of a WTA event.


And she’s done so in the face of extreme pressure. The secret may lie in her oft-quoted mantra of the past few days: ‘‘The pressure is on them (opponents), not me’’.

And so, faced with a better player — as she admitted after the match — Sania, after initial hiccups, simply raised her game and psyched her opponent. That means three rounds, three different situations and three different kinds of wins, from easy to very tough.

The result also confirmed one trait suspected in her: the longer the match, the better she gets. She’s played 11 three-setters in her past 10 tournaments and won seven of those matches.

The first set went along expected lines. Sania’s erratic play and unforced errors gave her just one game — the ninth — when she wasn’t stretched to deuce. Oblizer was on top with her double-handed backhand and the occasional variety of top-spin and once she’d broken sania in the seventh game the set was over. The crowd was momentarily silenced, perhaps sensing it may not be her day.

The second began in the same vein. Sania was stretched to deuce and served two double faults before she managed to hold serve. The turning point was the third game. Having already slugged 16 returns in the fourth game — the longest of the match — it was a signal of her intent: she was ready to attack.

The sixth game decided the set. Serving at 40-30, Oblizer had a baseline call go against her, one that appeared distinctly in. That broke her concentration and Sania broke her serve, going on to win the set.

At one set all, it appeared neither was prepared to give in. Oblizer regained her composure and started closing out Sania at the corners near the net, while the home girl came up with her big forehands and several exquisite down-the-line backhands.

They traded breaks — Oblizer in the fifth and seventh, Sania in the second and tenth — in a rocking rollercoaster of a set that inevitably went into the tie-breaker. There, she trailed 3-1 but recovered on the strength of willpower and family support. ‘‘I kept looking at my father and friends’’, she said, ‘‘it was a team effort that saw me through.’’

Later, Sania Mirza and Shikha Uberoi ended their challenge in the doubles event bowing tamely to Zie Zheng and Zi Yan 7-5, 6-1.
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Old Feb 11th, 2005, 04:24 PM   #32
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Sania rallies into semis

Deepti Patwardhan in Hyderabad | February 10, 2005 19:58 IST
Last Updated: February 10, 2005 21:04 IST



With over 3,000 hearts beating for her, Sania Mirza couldn't have surrendered the battle. Every time she seemed down and out the spectators lifted her, charged her up for the next point and, eventually, she overcame Tzipora Obziler of Israel to enter the semi-finals of the WTA Hyderabad Open for the first time in three attempts.

</IMG>From a set down, the Indian teenage sensation staged a superb recovery to win 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5) at the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh Tennis Complex on Thursday.

"It always helps to have so many people cheering for you. Whenever I was in trouble I would look at my father or my friends. So I think this was a team effort," said Mirza, exhausted after the match.

After losing the first set, Mirza held on tenaciously and found an answer to her lanky opponent's speed and steel. She broke Tzipora in the sixth game of the second set and held serve thereafter to take the set 6-3.

Also read: The making of Sania Mirza

The third-set was closely fought as both players kept threatening to break each other's serve. Tzipora, who survived a break-point in her first game, won three games on the trot.

The 18-year-old Indian, fresh from a good showing at the Australian Open where she lost in the third round, struggled to get her first serve in, but her groundstrokes proved too powerful for the Israeli. One particular rally saw her in total command as Tzipora ended up being too predictable. Playing mostly on the backhand from the baseline, the 21-year-old didn't have the variety to finish off the point.

"Even when I was 3-0 down in the third set I wasn't too bothered. I have come back from such situations before and was confident I could do it again. Obziler was running down a lot, making me hit one extra ball," she said.

Mirza got the set to 3-3 and then went on to dominate two more games. At 5-3, Obziler survived two match-points before the Indian teenager looked set to win the game serving at 5-4.

But the Israeli wasn't done yet; her two years in the army were eking out new gasps of energy. She won the game and held her serve in the next to put the pressure back on the Indian.

"I think at match-point I put too much pressure on myself," said Mirza.

Once into the tie-breaker, both players again struggled to win points on serve. Till 5-5, all the winning points came against serve. Then Mirza hit another killer forehand down the line to earn another match point. This time she finished the job quickly, setting up the winner after putting Tzipora out of the point with a superb return off a weak second serve.

Mirza will next play Maria Kirilenko of Russia in the semi-finals.

Kirilenko, a finalist at the tournament in 2004, had pulled off the biggest upset of the event earlier in the day by defeating the first seed Na Li of China 6-4, 6-3.

The other semi-final will be contested between Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany and Alyona Bondarenko of Ukraine.


Groenefeld beat Tian Tian Sun of China 7-6(7/5), 6-3 while Bondarenko beat Marie-eve Pelletier of Cananda 7-6(7/5), 6-4.
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Old Feb 11th, 2005, 04:30 PM   #33
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Indian tennis player Sania Mirza plays a return to Russian opponent Maria Kirilenko at the WTA Hyderabad Tennis Tournament in Hyderabad, 11 February 2005. Mirza defeated Kirilenko by 6-4. 7-6


Sania in final!!!!
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Old Feb 11th, 2005, 04:36 PM   #34
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Indian tennis player Sania Mirza waves to the crowd as she celebrates her win over Russian opponent Maria Kirilenko at the WTA Hyderabad Tennis Tournament in Hyderabad, 11 February 2005. Mirza defeated Kirilenko 6-4. 7-6 (7-4).
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Old Feb 11th, 2005, 04:42 PM   #35
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India's Mirza reaches first WTA finalBy NARENDER REVELLI, Associated Press Writer
February 11, 2005

HYDERABAD, India (AP) -- Sania Mirza of India scored a big victory before a home crowd Friday, beating eighth-seeded Maria Kirilenko of Russia 6-4, 7-6 (4) at the Hyderabad Open to reach her first WTA Tour final.

Mirza, who is not seeded, will play Ukraine's Alyona Bondarenko for the title Saturday. Bondarenko advanced to her first final in a walkover in the other semifinal. Second-seeded Anna Lena Groenefeld of Germany hurt her right knee while teaming with Martina Navratilova in doubles Thursday.

Mirza, a former Wimbledon junior doubles title winner who turned 18 last month, is ranked 134th. At last month's Australian Open, she became the first Indian woman to reach the third round of a Grand Slam event.

She won her semifinal against Kirilenko with a backhand down the line on a return of serve. Kirilenko, ranked 82nd, lost to Nicole Pratt in last year's title match.

``I have no words to describe the feeling of reaching the final,'' Mirza said. ``This was the best match I've ever played, it is a special feeling to be in a WTA event final.''

Kirilenko lost the first set after a string of unforced errors and a double-fault. Mirza raced ahead 3-0 in the second set. Serving for the match at 5-3, Mirza committed four double-faults during the ninth and 11th games, helping Kirilenko bounce back.

The 18-year-old Russian then made two unforced errors and double-faulted, forcing a tiebreaker. Kirilenko led 4-2 in the tiebreaker, but Mirza reeled off five points in a row.
Updated on Friday,
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Old Feb 11th, 2005, 08:28 PM   #36
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Awesome efforts Sania - a star has been born.
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Old Feb 11th, 2005, 11:09 PM   #37
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i liked both players so im both happy and sad about the result, well done sania!
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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 12:14 AM   #38
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Go Mirza! Good luck in the final!
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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 03:11 PM   #39
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sania won the title!!! good stuff sania. now, what is happening with the ankles? i hope they are as she has been playing on them all tournament which couldnt have helped the injury. hope she can recover quickly and get back to winning matches!
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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 04:39 PM   #40
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Congrats SAnia!!!






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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 04:48 PM   #41
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Mirza becomes first Indian woman to win WTA Tour titleBy NARENDER REVELLI, Associated Press Writer
February 12, 2005

HYDERABAD, India (AP) -- Sania Mirza became the first Indian to win a WTA Tour title Saturday with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 victory over Alyona Bondarenko of Ukraine in the final of the Hyderabad Open.

Mirza, ranked 131st in the world, is a former Wimbledon junior doubles winner.

``I had a great tournament,'' Mirza, 18, said. ``The final could have gone either way.''

Bondarenko, ranked 107th, was seeking her first tour title.

``I was really nervous playing in a final, it turned out to be a tough one,'' Bondarenko said.

Playing an overall solid match in front of a boisterous home crowd, Mirza overcame a jittery start that saw her drop her first service with three double faults.

Recovering from an 0-2 deficit, Mirza took charge with whipping

forehands and moved to a 3-2 lead. She broke serve again in the ninth game and took the first set. Bondarenko came back and won the second set.

In the third set, Mirza broke Bondarenko in the first, third and fifth games and surged to 5-2 lead, but dropped her own service in the eighth game when she had two match points.

After firing two aces, Mirza was up 40-15 when she thought another ace for the match. The crowd cheered in celebration, but the referee said the serve brushed the net-cord. Rattled, Mirza lost the point, but broke Bondarenko again in the next game to clinch the title. Mirza's victory was worth $22,000.
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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 07:39 PM   #42
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Old Feb 13th, 2005, 12:00 PM   #43
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Mirza Makes History with Title Win at Home

HYDERABAD, India - She certainly made her country proud. Ranked No.134 and playing in only her fifth Sony Ericsson WTA Tour main draw, 18-year-old local favorite Sania Mirza became the first Indian woman to win a Tour singles title.

After winning the $140,000 Hyderabad Open, it was reported that Mirza, who hails from Hyderabad, was congratulated by India's Congressional President, Sonia Gandhi, who watched the match.

Mirza, who made an impression at the Australian Open three weeks ago by becoming the first Indian woman to reach the third round at a Grand Slam, upset No.9 seed Alyona Bondarenko of Ukraine, 64 57 63, in the final.

In a first-time meeting, both finalists were making debuts in a Tour singles championship match. Last year, Mirza won the doubles title with Liezel Huber in her first Tour final.

Mirza showed promise last year when she won the Wimbledon junior title and since then has jumped from No.377 in the world to inside the Top 150.

Bondarenko is also making moves up the ranks, currently at a career-high No.102. Last year, at this time, she was No.187, and just last week, she played her first Tour quarterfinal in Pattaya City.

In the doubles, it was an all-Chinese affair, with No.3 seeds Zi Yan and Jie Zheng upsetting Olympic gold medalists and No.2 seeds Ting Li and Tiantian Sun, 64 61.

Playing in their third Tour doubles final together, champions Yan and Zheng won their second Tour doubles title, adding to their first crown at Hobart earlier this year. They avenged their 2003 Vienna doubles final loss to Li and Sun, who were runners-up at this event last year.
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Old Feb 13th, 2005, 11:41 PM   #44
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Congrats. Mirza!

Thanks everyone, for the articles and pics!

Mirza Makes History in Home Event at WTA Hyderabad

18-year-old Sania Mirza outlasted the Ukraine's Alonya Bondarenko to win the WTA Hyderabad Open Saturday, becoming the first Indian woman to win a WTA Tour title.

Mirza raced to a 5-1 lead in the fifth, failing to serve the match out before eventually clinching 6-4, 5-7, 6-3.

"This win has made me believe more in myself and I can now hope to do better in the coming days," Mirza said. "I wanted to win this tournament very badly since it was in my hometown."

In the all-Chinese doubles final, Zi Yan and Jie Zheng shocked Olympic gold medal winners Ting Li and Tian Tian Sun 6-4, 6-1.
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Old Feb 18th, 2005, 01:56 AM   #45
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http://www.expressindia.com/fullstor...2052#compstory

Sania Mirza bowls over cricket-mad India

Reuters
Posted online: Thursday, February 17, 2005 at 1200 hours IST

New Delhi, February 17: Hundreds of cheering fans jostled past a bewildered guard into a stadium in India last Saturday for the final of a women's tennis tournament.

This rare response in the cricket-mad nation was caused by the unprecedented participation of an Indian teenager in the final of a WTA event in Hyderabad.

Sania Mirza did not disappoint, creating history by becoming the first Indian woman to capture a WTA singles title. In the process she has also cracked the top 100 in the rankings, rising to 99 this week.

The landmark victory came 46 years after Ramanathan Krishnan became the first Indian man to win a title, at London's Queen's Club.

The Hyderabad-based Mirza, 18, has become the toast of a country starved of sporting heroes with even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh personally congratulating her.

The domestic media provided saturation coverage as the unseeded player, braving thigh and ankle injuries, progressed through each round and then upset Ukraine's Alyona Bondarenko, the ninth seed.

Her performance whipped up such frenzy that the regional government is providing her with personal security to avoid her being mobbed by over-enthusiastic fans.

The articulate Mirza, who idolises German tennis great Steffi Graf, has also drawn wide attention outside the sporting world by wearing trendy glasses and multiple ear-rings, making her both a teen icon and an advertiser's dream.

She was ranked a modest 134 before the Hyderabad event and now has her sights set on breaking into the top 50.

CAPTURED IMAGINATION

"The encouragement we have received...has been tremendous," her delighted mother Naseema said.

"We were hoping she would reach the top 100 by this year-end. She has done that in two months. If she works hard, she can even touch top 50 this year."

Mirza captured the nation's imagination last month when she reached the Australian Open third round as a wildcard before losing to eventual winner Serena Williams.

Davis Cup doubles players Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes have joined the chorus of praise for her.

"It's a great effort for an 18-year-old girl to do this in India," said Bhupathi, whose sports management firm manages Mirza.

"We can look forward to exciting times from her. Sania's strong point is she handles pressure very well," he told Reuters. "If you can do that in professional tennis, half the battle is won.

"This victory will spark huge interest in women's tennis in India."

Previously Indian male players have shone on the tour and in Davis Cup.

Krishnan and Vijay Amritraj were highly rated while Paes and Bhupathi are multiple doubles grand slam winners.

By contrast, Nirupama Vaidyanathan reaching the second round at the 1998 Australian Open had been the best effort by an Indian woman.

Daughter of a Hyderabad-based builder, Mirza showed early promise after being initiated into tennis as a six-year-old.

Her natural forehand and all-out aggression were unusual in Indian women tennis players who have in the past displayed a tendency for soft serves and tame baseline rallies.

ASIAN BRONZE

Mirza's big boost came in 2002 when Paes decided to take her on as his mixed doubles partner at the Asian Games. The duo went on to claim the bronze medal.

The rise has been steady since then.

She won the Wimbledon girls doubles in 2003 alongside Russian Alisa Kleybanova and stints under respected tennis coach Bob Brett in Italy helped her improve both her game and fitness.

She has won 12 titles on the secondary ITF women's circuit, including five in 2004, before her encouraging Australian Open showing.

Now the Hyderabad victory has attracted many endorsement offers, but her parents are keen to keep the focus on tennis.

"We've got 20-22 offers but we'll take up only two or three. We don't want her wasting too much time doing ads," Naseema said.

Paes wants Mirza to maintain focus on her game and not be weighed down by her country's rising expectations.

"It's hard work, hard work and even more hard work. That is the only way to maximise her talent," he said.

For the moment, Mirza, nursing an ankle injury, has decided to put her feet up. But not for long.

___________________________________

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/a...ow/1023483.cms

Sania Mirza gets police cover

TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2005 11:09:23 AM ]

HYDERABAD: Sania Mirza’s wild card entry into the circle of fame has acquired a wrinkle of worry with fans making it difficult for her to get back on even keel.


Sania’s mother Naseema (L) and SAAP vice-chairperson Sumita Dawra seek security for the tennis star during a meeting with city police commissioner V Dinesh Reddy on Wednesday. (Photo: Mahesh Kumar A)


Just to keep her out of harm’s way, her mother Naseema Mirza has requested the city police to provide her round-the-clock security.

Naseema and Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh (Saap) managing director Sumita Dawra met police commissioner Dinesh Reddy on Wednesday to seek protection for Sania.

Consequently, two armed police guards will shadow Sania wherever she goes in the state.

Sania’s run of success has generated the sort of fan following enjoyed by the likes of film stars.

Even the 18-year-old seemed bemused by the rah-rah crowd that turned up to cheer her on at the Hyderabad WTA open last week.

Dawra confirmed meeting the police commissioner but said it was just a precautionary measure.

“Nothing much should be read into it. She is having trouble going out and practising. As a precautionary measure we requested the commissioner to assign some security as her parents were a bit worried,” she told The Times of India , here on Wednesday.

Imran Mirza, Sania’s father, too downplayed the happening. “Sania is having trouble going out to restaurants, etc. Basically she is being mobbed by autograph hunters,” he said.

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http://www.indiadaily.com/breaking_news/25177.asp

Sania Mirza seeks police protection

Feb. 16, 2005

Indian tennis sensation Sania Mirza has shot into fame so fast that she is unable to move about in public as she is recognised instantly even by those who are not tennis fans and pestered for autographs. All Hyderabadis are now her admirers as she has brought the city fame and name. Faced with the problem of crowds thronging arund Sania, her mother Naseema has asked city police commissioner V Dinesh Reddy for security, which has been immediately provided to Sania. Admirers have started bothering her day and night, not allowing her to even rest her injured knee. Her recent win in the WTA-Hyderabad Open has heightened the frenzy. Naseema on Wednesday approached Dinesh Reddy and explained the situation. She told him that some unknown persons had tried to scale the compound wall of their house recently. Reddy immediately appointed personal security officers for Sania round-the-clock. Security personnel from the city security wing would guard her house when she is at home and accompany her on her outings.
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