More than Somdev Devvarman's easy run against home favourite Zhang Ze on way to the semifinals at the Asian Games, it was Sania Mirza's loss to Uzbekistan's Amanmuradova Akgul, which was making news on Sunday.
The euphoria surrounding Sania's presence at the Doha Asian Games in 2006 was absent and so was the crowd, though the small Indian expatriate population tried its best to pep up the Indian star against the higher ranked Uzbek.
Though Sania was up to the task initially, clinching a hard-fought first-set at 7-6 (97), the Indian ace looked frail, following a bout of throat infection not so long back. Besides, Akgul's aces kept wreaking havoc and unnerving the Indian champion time and again.
The first set slipping out of Akgul's hands, despite the 10 aces she smashed, she cashed in on Sania's weak second serve --- her first serve invariably landed in the net, though her volleys were crisp and low --- to come back with vengeance, finishing off the remaining two sets 6-3, 6-4 in 49 and 46 minutes respectively.
"I beat her (Akgul) the last time, but she played well today. Her serve is her strength." said Sania.
In men’s doubles semifinals, Somdev Devvarman and Sanam Singh beat Cho Soong-Jae and Kim Hyun-Joon (KOR) 6-3, 7-5.
On the other hand, Sania and Vishnu Vardhan defeated T. Tanasugarnand Sanchai Ratiwatana 3-6, 7-6 (7/3), 1-0 to enter the final.