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Sania loses, blames injury for early exit

sports Updated: May 27, 2009 00:03 IST

Sania Mirza blamed a lack of match practice after being eliminated in the first round of the French Open here on Tuesday.

The world number 95 is trying to regain form after an injury-plagued 2008, but looked short of sharpness in a rain-hit 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) defeat to Kazakhstan's Galina Voskoboeva.

“It was tough conditions to play in, going on the court and then going off, and it was windy,” said Mirza.

“I haven't had too much practice because I injured my wrist again after the Madrid Open and had to head back home and get that treated. And it's (clay) not one of my favourite surfaces to play on!

Mirza held to love in an emphatic opening service game before the heavens opened, forcing the players off with the score 1-1.

The 22-year-old surrendered her serve in the first game after the rain delay and spurned two chances to break back in game six, letting another two break points slip by at 4-3 down as Voskoboeva, 24, closed out the set.

The players exchanged breaks twice in the second set before Russia-born Voskoboeva, the world number 81, took advantage of her opponent's misfiring serve to clinch victory in the tie-break, sealing her win with an ace.

Voskoboeva will play Russian seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in round two.

Mirza became the first female Indian player to earn in excess of one million US dollars in 2008, despite a season disrupted by a recurring wrist injury that caused her to miss last year's French Open.

Her Australian Open mixed doubles success in Melbourne this year, with partner Mahesh Bhupathi, made her the first Indian woman to win a Grand Slam title.

“The amount of people who came up to us and said congratulations — those kind of things are really small things, but they really mean a lot,” Mirza said.