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Nothing to lose in clash against Venus: Sania

Sania Mirza will play against Venus Williams in the third round in Australian Open on Saturday.

sports Updated: Jan 18, 2008 18:12 IST

Three years ago, Sania Mirza first hit the headlines at the Australian Open with her match against Serena Williams. Now, established as one of the popular players on the women's tennis circuit, she goes up against Venus Williams in the third round on Saturday.

The occasion is not lost on the 21-year-old Sania. "I'm just excited to play her. Probably play on a big court and in front of a big crowd. Three years ago when it all started I played Serena and now I'm playing Venus in the third round," said Sania.

The two will clash on the show courts on Saturday evening, when the crowds are expected to be big.

Venus, who went through a tough three-setter in her second round, is wary of Sania. She said: "Yeah, actually, I have (played against her) - a little while ago. She's a good player, also. She tries to play aggressive. Looks like she enjoys herself out there."

Venus won a second round match featuring 14 service breaks as she defeated Frenchwoman Camille Pin 7-5 6-4 in one hour and 33 minutes.

Sania came through beating Swiss player Timea Bacsinszky, also in three sets.

Talking about her match against the eighth seed Venus, whose best here has been an appearance in the final in 2003, Sania said: "I'm just going to go for it. I have nothing to lose. I'm very excited, actually, to play Venus.

"I think the last time I played her was in Stanford a couple years ago. And obviously I feel like I'm playing well, and I'm playing better tennis than I was a couple of years ago. And so is she."

When told Venus expected her to be very aggressive, Sania responded: "Well, it's not a secret any more. I think everyone knows that by now, that I like to go for it. And I think she was surprised that I was not as aggressive. So I think it's a given because - yeah, I've been on the circuit long enough for people to know what's good and what's not good in my game, relatively."

On her start this season, Sania said she was happy. "I lost a couple of very close three-setters at the Hopman Cup. I wanted to come through those, obviously, because I think it's always good to win three-set matches. For your confidence mentally and physically, as well, you feel like you become stronger.

"But, yeah, I think third round of the first Slam is not a bad start to the season. I feel good. And I won a couple of matches last week in Hobart, as well.

"I'm looking forward to it. I play Fed Cup, get a lot of matches in there next week after here."

Speaking on Venus' game, Sania was clear: "She's one of the best players in the world. You can't really pick and say, right, so this is her weakness and this is what I'm going to attack.

"I think the key for me is going to try and stay aggressive. Because if I let someone like that, like Venus, who is a very overpowering person on the court, you know, let them take charge, then I'm going to have no chance.

"So I think my - my first aim, I mean, I'm not even thinking about the match yet, but the first thing that I'm thinking about is that I want to try and get a good start again. I mean, the first couple of games, not try and go down 3-love or 4-Love or 5-Love; just try and get on the board and try and get a good start."

Sania agreed that she didn't have a big weapon against Venus. "Of course. Of course. I'm going to try and have to run around a lot more balls. Obviously I have to use my forehand a lot more.

"But, you know, I mean, everyone has weaknesses. And I'm sure Venus does, too. So let's hope - so to be honest, I'm just looking forward to the match. I'm very excited to play her. She's a great girl. We were just talking when I went inside. "

As for playing on the big court, she said: "If you play on Rod Laver, it's great we're playing in front of so many people. I think at the end of the day, when you go out on the court, it's you, the ball and the opponent. You really don't care who else is sitting, who else is watching."