Sania 1st Indian woman to win at US Open
Sania now plays Italy's 81st ranked Maria Elena Camerin. Action in Picsindia Updated: Sep 01, 2005 19:39 IST
Sania Mirza became first the Indian woman to win a match at the US Open Grand Slam after she battled poor form and fitness problems to clinch a thrilling first round win in women's singles at the Flushing Meadows on Monday.
Sania, hampered by a strained abdominal muscle, needed to dig deep into her reserveson Mondayto outclass 19-year-old Mashona Washington of the USA 7-6 (8/6), 6-7 (6/8), 6-4 in two hours and 13 minutes.
In a low quality contest where both players committed too many unforced errors and frequently squandered advantageous positions, the 18-year-old Indian showed a steady head in handling the pressure to come through a worthy winner.
Mashona, ranked 65, blew hot and cold. The American had 38 winners as against Sania's 21 and at times showed more variation. Whenever she came up to the net, the Indian had no answer.
But Mashona also had a high number of unforced errors, 52 compared to Sania's 45, and as many as eight double faults.
That the Indian had two less winning points in the match than her opponent, 115 to 117, and was still able to come through only showed her maturity in handling crunch situations.
Both the teenagers seemed to be conscious of the big stage and the early phase of the match was spent in assessing each other's weaknesses and strengths.
Sania went up breaking Mashona in the very first game but the American bounced back with two successive breaks to go 4-2 up. But serving for the set at 5-3, Mashona was broken.
The second set was a ding-dong battle that saw Sania fail to close the match after going 3-1 up. Mashona did well to come back twice from a break behind while Sania hung on to avert a break in the 12th game and pushed the set into the tie-breaker.
Again Sania went up 3-0 only to allow Mashona to claw back. The local lass once again failed to convert two set points but was successful on her third break point.
In the decider, Sania again took the lead breaking Mashona in the first game, only to surrender it quickly.
The worrying part was that she was failing to finish off easy put aways, particularly on her normally reliable forehands. In fact, on one such occasion, after hitting a forehand long with the court wide open, Sania banged her racquet in frustration.
Fortunately for Sania, Mashona was proving to be error-prone. After levelling the score 3-3, the American committed two double faults to hand Sania a 5-4 lead.
Her mental depths further probed when she faced four break points while serving for the match, and the issue was finally settled when Mashona sent a forehand wide.
Sania now plays Italy's 81st ranked Maria Elena Camerin who ousted 21st ranked Dinara Safina of Russia.Action in pics