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Wrists and misses

Sania loses to Hantuchova in Pacific Life Open, complains of a recurring hand injury.
Agencies | By HT Correspondent, Indian Wells
UPDATED ON MAR 19, 2008 11:20 PM IST

SANIA MIRZA bowed out of the Pacific Life Open on Tuesday and said her spell in the California desert had caused a flare up of a recurrent wrist ailment.

"Right now it's very, very painful," Sania said after falling 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) to defending champion Daniela Hantuchova.

"I don't know how I was playing out there, because, I mean, the ball was just flying out because I couldn't move my wrist.

"Usually it doesn't get this sore, so I'm a little worried right now. It gets sore and then it gets OK when I ice it and do whatever I have to do."

Sania said she was going to seek an MRI within a few days to try and pinpoint the problem, which she says stems from her grip and wrist action.

Sania said she would try to avoid surgery, but was also not keen on the idea of changing the way she grips the raquet.

"It's a big step to even change it half an inch because my game is my forehand," she said. "You know, it's not easy to change a grip at the stage where you're, like, 30 in the world. I would obviously like to look at other options before that."

Sania said the windy conditions at Indian Wells had exacerbated the problem, because the wind wreaked havoc with the timing of shots.

Against Hantuchova, she said, she felt fine until she hit a couple of forehands late. She was hopeful that treatment would get her in good enough shape to continue in doubles. "I still have a day," she said. "It could be perfectly fine by tomorrow morning. It just depends on the day."

"I thought it was a great match," Hantuchova told reporters. "Sania is a great hitter and I was expecting a really tough one today. Just being able to be in the quarters without losing a set feels really great.

"I feel like I'm hitting the ball well again," added the 24-year-old, who claimed her first WTA career title at Indian Wells in 2002. "I'm doing it the same way as last year so those two are pretty good signs. We'll see what's going to happen."

Hantuchova broke Sania in the second and fourth games to storm through the opening set in 39 minutes. After trading an early service break in the second set, the elegant Slovakian broke again in the 11th game, when her opponent double faulted, to lead 6-5.

Although Hantuchova then lost her own serve, she clinched the tie-break 7-4, sealing victory with a crunching backhand down the line.

Australian Open champion Maria Sharapova of Russia booked a quarterfinal berth with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 victory over Ukrainian Alona Bondarenko. Fourth-seeded Sharapova, who posted her 17th straight match win to preserve her perfect 2008 record, had to battle for 2hr 45min to set up a meeting with Hantuchova.

Svetlana Kuznetsova swept past 17-year-old Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark 6-2, 6-3. In another fourth-round match, Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland overcame unseeded American Ashley Harkleroad 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 and will meet Kuznetsova.

Federer brushes aside Mahut

TOP-RANKED Roger Federer dispatched Nicolas Mahut 6-1, 6-1 for his 19th successive win over a Frenchman. Federer, recently recovered from mononucleosis, hit nine aces and lost only four points on serve in the 54-minute match.

Federer's fourth round opponent will be Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia, who ousted Tommy Robredo of Spain 6-3, 6-4. Seventh seeded David Nalbandian of Argentina was two points from defeat before beating Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 7-6 (1), 0-6, 7-6 (6).

Hewitt, Luczak in

Davis Cup tie

Sydney: LLEYTON HEWITT will lead the Australian Davis Cup squad against Thailand in next month's tie in the northerpn city of Townsville, Tennis Australia said on Wednesday.

Peter Luczak, at a career high of world number 69, has been recalled to the team that will play the Asia/Oceania Zone Group One second round tie on April 11-13. The inclusion of 28-year-old Luczak edges out Alun Jones who was named in the team that beat Taiwan last month.

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