'Upset' Sania hopes to prove herself
Coming out of injury, which cut short her season last year, Sania had not had the best of starts in 2008 with an average outing at the Hopman Cup, winning one and losing her two singles matches.tennis Updated: Jan 14, 2008 13:07 IST
An "upset" Sania Mirza would look to improve on her performance at the big stage as she begins her campaign in the year's first Grand Slam -- the Australian Open-- against Uzbek wildcard Iroda Tulyaganova in Melbourne.
Coming out of injury, which cut short her season last year, Sania had not had the best of starts in 2008 with an average outing at the Hopman Cup, winning one and losing her two singles matches.
She then reached the quarterfinals of the Tier IV Moorilla Hobart International by overcoming two easy opponents before losing to Italian Flavia Pennetta.
Adding to her problems is the flag controversy, which has reportedly upset the Indian tennis star to the extent that she has started to think over her tennis career.
Sania will have to forget the off-field issues to prove her mettle at the big stage, where she faces the best in the game. If she plays her best tennis, reaching the third round at Melbourne Park should not be a problem.
However, much would also depend on Sania's fitness as she suffered cramps in the event at Hobart. She opens her campaign against the 26-year-old Tulyaganova, who perhaps is past her best years.
The Uzbek girl was among the top 20 players at one time but that was way back in 2001. She is currently ranked 317 on the WTA charts while Sania is just outside the top 30 mark.
So getting past Tulyaganova and a possible second round opponent in Sophie Ferguson, ranked 176 in the world, should not be a problem for Sania on the new Plexicushion surface, which she claims suits her style of play.
Blue in colour, Plexicushion replaces the 20-year-old Rebound Ace surface, which was faster than the new one. Sania had said the new surface is similar to the courts at the US Open, where she has done well. Progress to the third round would mean a possible match-up with eight-seeded American Venus Williams.