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Sania goes down to Tatishvili

Georgian teenager saw off Indian tennis star on a rain-marred day in the $6.9 million Miami Masters Series.
None | By Agence France-Presse, Miami
UPDATED ON MAR 24, 2006 07:40 PM IST

Georgian teenager Anna Tatishvili saw off Indian tennis star Sania Mirza on a rain-marred day in the $6.9 million Miami WTA and ATP Masters Series tournament.

Tatishvili, who trains in Florida and received a wild card into the draw, beat Mirza 7-6 (8/6), 1-6, 7-6 (10/8) to claim her first match victory in her fourth WTA tour event.

After letting slip a 4-0 lead in the third set, she fended off Mirza's chances to take the match, despite admitting to nerves on the big stage of Stadium Court.

"I just really wanted to win," Tatishvili said.

"She hung in there and she was playing some great tennis," said Mirza, who this week received the WTA award for best newcomer of 2005, but who fell in an opening match for the third time in seven events in 2006.

"I guess it's a bit tough when you're not really playing the best tennis and the other girl is just playing some unbelievable shots," she said.

The match was just one of many pushed back by rain, which stopped play for more than four hours and briefly returned again after play had resumed.

The delays meant the Stadium Court clash between Briton Tim Henman and Russian Marat Safin didn't get on court until after midnight. Once it did, Henman downed Safin 6-3, 6-3.

Before the rain struck, France's Arnaud Clement routed Australian qualifier Peter Luczak 6-1, 6-2 to earn the dubious distinction of a clash with top seeded Swiss Roger Federer.

Federer, the defending champion, has lost just one match this year — the final at Dubai to Rafael Nadal.

Federer has won his last 42 matches on US soil, including seven titles. His Australian Open triumph in January was his third straight Grand Slam victory, after triumphs at Wimbledon and the US Open last year.

Like all the top 32 men and women here, Federer had a first-round bye, and Thursday's matches were devoted to the unseeded players.

Spain's Alberto Martin prevented a rematch between Romanian Andrei Pavel and fourth-seeded American Andy Roddick, dispatching Pavel 6-2, 6-2.

Roddick blew a match point in the third set and — growing visibly ill — lost in five sets to Pavel last month in the United States' Davis Cup victory over Romania.

Now Martin will meet the slumping Roddick, who is just 11-5 and has reached only one semi-final this year.

Thai tennis hero Paradorn Srichaphan was unable to build on his semi-final performance at the first Masters Series of the year at Indian Wells last week, where he lost to eventual champion Federer.

German qualifier Simon Gruel downed the Thai 5-7, 6-2, 7-5.

Belgian Kim Clijsters is the women's defending champion, having won the title last year with an impressive run as an unseeded player.

This year she is seeded second behind Amelie Mauresmo, who regained the world number one ranking on Monday.

Clijsters is returning to action after recovering from a right ankle sprain that caused her to retire from her Australian Open semi-final with France's Mauresmo, who went on to claim the title.

Clijsters will play American veteran Jill Craybas in the second round. Craybas held a 6-3, 4-6, 4-1 advantage over Croatian Jelena Kostanic when play was suspended in the afternoon. When play resumed at night, Craybas won the next two games to close out the match.

The rain left fourth-seeded Russian Maria Sharapova still waiting to learn her second round opponent, after the match between Akiko Morigami of Japan and Li Na of China was postponed.

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