As Sania Mirza’s backhand winner blew away their opponents off the red claycourts of Roland Garros, the 25-year-old could only smile. After all, the crushing shot earned herself and compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi a berth in the French Open mixed doubles final.
The Indian seventh seeds needed only 80 minutes to thrash the unseeded Kazak-Italian duo of Galina Voskoboeva and Daniele Bracciali 6-3, 6-2 on Wednesday and book a place into their maiden final at Roland Garros.
“It’s absolutely thrilling to make my fourth Grand Slam final,” Sania told HT from Paris."By entering my second straight final at Roland Garros, I feel I’ve come a long way in learning how to play on the red clay of Europe. I was least comfortable on the surface when I started my career," she added.
However, in the other semifinal, fifth seed Leander Paes and his Russian partner Elena Vesnina lost to the unseeded Polish-Mexican pair of Klaudia Jans-Ignacik and Santiago Gonzalez in straight sets 7-6(2), 6-3.
The Bhupathi-Sania combination now has a shot at clinching their second Grand Slam title.
This semifinal win took them to their third Grand Slam final. They had lost the 2008 Australian Open final but returned to clinch the title the following year.Redemption song
Bowing out of the French Open in the first round of the women’s doubles must have hit Sania hard. As father Imran Mirza said last week, "It was a heartbreaking loss and it takes time to bounce back from such a defeat."
Defending 1400 points, she needed to make it to the final to stay in the women’s doubles top-10 and clinch a direct London Olympic berth. Sania and Russian Elena Vesnina had won the women’s doubles here last year.
Now, her Olympic dreams solely depend on the ITF’s Olympic Committee’s discretion of granting her a wildcard.
Bhupathi’s French Open campaign hasn’t gone according to plan either. Partnering Rohan Bopanna, the sixth seeds were shown the door in their opener. And that has also put their London chances in jeopardy as the June 11 cut-off date looms near.
Pune boy Arjun Kadhe and his Peruvian partner Jorge Brian Panta Herreros stormed into the quarterfinals of the boy’s doubles at the French Open with a 6-3, 7-6 (4) victory over third seeds Julien Cagnina and Luke Saville.
Eighteen-year-old Kadhe and Herreros dominated the first set, wrapping it up in just 20 minutes without breaking a sweat.
However, their opponents fought back in the second as both teams managed to break their opponents twice.
Just when it looked like the Belgian-Australian duo were getting into their rhythm, Kadhe and his partner raised their game in the tie-breaker to pocket the match in straight sets and set up a last-eight clash against Australia’s Andrew Harris and Nick Kyrgios.
Kadhe is currently the Indian national doubles champion.
With agency inputs