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Sania goes down fighting

sports Updated: Jan 18, 2011 01:17 IST

IANS
Highlight Story

India's Sania Mirza put on a spirited performance against former World No.1 and winner of seven Grand Slams Justine Henin of Belgium to go up a set but faltered thereafter to lose 7-5, 3-6, 1-6 in the Australian Open women's singles first round here Monday.

There was bad news for India in the men's singles also, with Somdev Devvarman going down fighting to Spain's Tommy Robredo 6-7(4), 3-6, 4-6 in his first round match earlier in the day.

But it was Sania, who won hearts with her gutsy performance against the 2004 champion and 2006 and 2010 finalist, Henin, who is returning from an elbow injury she sustained at Wimbledon last year.

Sania, ranked a lowly 145th, had to come through the qualifiers to enter the main draw for making her seventh Australian Open appearance.

Once ranked as high as 27th in the world, the 24-year-old Indian was fluent in her groundstrokes and produced some irresistible winners to dominate the initial stages.

However, it was Sania's serve which let her down, her first serve percentage being 56 percent. The 11th-seeded Henin, too, fumbled with her first serve at 51 percent.

Sania wrestled a decisive break in the 12th game to win the first set after an hour's engrossing fight.

She, however, couldn't carry on in the same vein in the second set.

Sania ran out of steam in the decider while a confident Henin ran through the set to win the match in two hours and 12 minutes.