Sania faces tough second round battle | sports | Hindustan Times
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Sania faces tough second round battle

Sania will need to play out of skin to beat her second round opponent Ana Ivanovic, writes Atul Sondhi.

sports Updated: May 31, 2007 11:10 IST
Atul Sondhi

There are many similarities between Serbia's Ana Ivanovic, the second round opponent of Sania Mirza, and the Indian sensation.

Looks, solid ground strokes, and age (Sania at 20 just being an year older) makes the clash a much-anticipated one between the two upcoming players.

To make it even more similar, both the ladies have lost just two games in their first round clashes.

While Sania battered Italy's Alberta Brianti 6-1 6-1, Ivanovic, number seven seed, lost just two games in the first set and blanked out Swedish Arvindsson in the second. Looks like, after two first-round losses in the previous editions, Sania has realized that getting as many forehands as possible on the slow surface is her best chance. Her ruthless demolition of the Italian was a pointer to the success of this strategy.

However, here the similarity ends. If we see the comparative season ending ranking of the two players, the rapid strides made by Ivanovic are a testimony to a blossoming game.

Comparative Rankings since 2003
Season
Ivanovic
Sania
2003
705
399
2004
97
206
2005
16
31
2006
14
66
Current
7
50

The contrast was especially stark last year when Ivanovic bettered her ranking by two points, while Sania's dream of getting into top-20s were shattered by injuries and sudden loss of form.

Besides, the French Open had been Sania's Worst major in last two tries. Before 2007, she had at least once cleared the first round of every Major. In contrast, Ivanovic has the best record at French Open, having reached the third round in 2005 and quarterfinal last year.

So, a tough job beckons. But having already got the monkey off her back by winning the 1st round, an uncluttered mind should help Sania resist better.