Leander Paes and Sania Mirza made it a Republic Day for Indian tennis fans to remember, winning their respective second-round mixed doubles matches at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
Top seeds Sania Mirza and Ivan Dodig shook off the challenge of Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and Yaroslava Shvedova 7-5, 6-2 in one hour and eight minutes, while Paes and Swiss partner Martina Hingis beat Jean-Julien Rojer and Sloane Stephens 6-1, 6-2 to set up a quarterfinal clash between the favourites.
The Indo-Croatian pair claimed the first set, resisting some stiff contest, in 38 minutes. They broke the Pakistani-Kazakh pair twice in the first set, receiving five break point chances, and were broken once in two attempts.
In the second set, however, they were far more at ease, breaking their opponents twice in six attempts and not getting broken once, needing only 30 minutes to seize it.
Mirza-Dodig hit fewer winners (23 to 27) but committed lesser unforced errors (16 to 20) to eventually win 65 of the total 115 points played to advance.
The experienced mixed doubles pair of Paes and Hingis, the defending champions were far more comfortable in their victory over Rojer and Stephens in 50 minutes.
The Indo-Swiss pair took just 21 minutes to pocket the first set, converting five of the eight break points received.
They were not under any duress throughout the match and easily broke their Dutch-American opponent’s serve.
In the second set, Paes-Hingis won three of the six break points received to win the set in 29 minutes.
They hit an overall 18 winners and just 5 unforced errors, winning 51 of the total 85 points played at the Margaret Court Arena.
Because Paes and Hingis are unseeded, despite being defending champions, the draw pits them against Mirza and Dodig in the quarterfinals. Therefore, only one of the Indian players can advance to the semifinals.