The Sania bubble burst on a bone-chilling night at the Khalifa tennis complex on Friday. The spectators came in throngs, anticipating pyrotechnics from the Indian women playing Chinese-Taipei in the final of the women’s team event. They stayed awake till the early hours of Saturday, hoping that Sania would conjure up the magic.
In the end, the women’s team of Sania Mirza and Shika Uberoi flattered to deceive, leaving the crowd disappointed.
To be sure, it was not all Sania’s fault. She won her singles tie against Chan Yung Jan 6-2, 6-2 in 59 minutes to bring India on equal terms after Shikha lost to Hsieh Su Wei 2-6, 5-7.
The keenly anticipated doubles match started close to midnight and turned out to be a completely one-sided affair. The Sania-Shikha duo was unable to match the precision play of Chun Chia Jung and Hsieh Su Wei as they lost 7-6 (2), 6-1 in less than an hour-and-a-half.
There were huge posters and placards of Sania sprung in the stands and the tricolour fluttered in the electric atmosphere. Close to 5,000 spectators were chanting “Saniaaa, Saniaa..” even when Shikha was playing her opening match. The atmosphere resembled a Davis Cup tie back home.
Even the chair umpire had to remind the boisterous spectators time and again to keep quiet and allow the players to concentrate. The only thing needed was for the Indian team to fire, but that did not come till the end as Shikha played an extremely mediocre game in the deciding doubles to hand over gold to Chinese-Taipei on a platter.
Her capitulation started right from the word go, when she was broken in the third game of the opening set and again in the seventh to go down 6-2.
Shikha, with her powerful serve, tried to derive some inspiration in the second set from the packed stands and even managed to come back into the game after trailing 1-5 to make it 5-all, but again she lost serve in the 11th game and Su Wei’s down-the-line forehand in the 12th game closed the set.
Sania was always going to be a tough opponent for Chan Yung Jan and she came out blazing, her backhand and forehand wreaking havoc as she passed the Chinese-Taipei girl at will.
The deciding doubles started well past midnight and India just could not take off in it. Shikha showed hardly any anticipation and the Chinese-Taipei duo of Chuang Chia Jung and the ever reliable Hsieh Sue Wei played a neat game to emerge easy winners in the first set tie-break.
Chuang and Hsieh hardly ever allowed Sania to come near the net. As for Shikha, the rivals passed her at will at the net to win the second set 6-1.
“I did not play well at all,” said a dejected Shikha even as Sania walked out without uttering a word, visibly agitated with way her compatriot played. “It feels bad that after reaching the final you lose. All the hard work goes down the drain,” said Shikha.
Chinese-Taipei beat India 2-1 (Hsieh Yung Jan bt Shikha Uberoi 6-2, 7-5; Sania Mirza bt Chan Yung; Jan 6-2, 6-2, Chung Chia Jung-Hsieh Su Wei bt Sania; Mirza-Shikha Uberoi 7-6 (2), 6-1).