Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Minor hiccup for Sania Mirza in Japan Open second round

Sania Mirza's campaign at the AIG Japan Open suffered a minor hiccup against a left-handed Australian named Casey Dellacqua but the Indian number one advanced to the quarterfinals with a hard-fought 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win.

The 84-ranked Dellacqua, whom Mirza has never played before, broke her serve in the first and fifth games of the deciding set. But experience in the higher echelons of the game helped Mirza, ranked 29 in the world, to claw her way back to win the match.

It was Mirza's 30th win on the WTA Tour this year as opposed to 16 losses.

Up next for the 20-year-old from Hyderabad is eighth seeded Italian Flavia Pennetta. Mirza had beaten her in straight sets in their only career meeting at the Open Gaz de France, Paris in February 2006.

The $175,000 Tier III event at Tokyo has been happy hunting ground for Mirza, who upset top-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva to reach the semifinal in her only previous appearance here in 2005.

This time around, Mirza is seeded second and one of the favourites to lay hands on the $25,840 winner's purse and 140 valuable WTA points.

If she gets past Pennetta, Mirza's toughest test would lie in the semifinals where she is expected to play Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano (5).

Razzano beat Mirza in straight sets in Los Angeles this year and is coming off a win at the Jinjiannan Guangzhou International Women's Open. Should Mirza survive, awaiting her in the final would be world no 8 Venus Williams, herself on a roll after a victory at Seoul last week.

In the first round at Tokyo on Monday, Mirza had beaten local hope Ayumi Morita 6-0, 6-4. The next day, she teamed up with American Christina Fusano to beat Urszula Radwanska of Poland and Agnes Szatmari of Romania 6-3, 6-2 in the doubles.

The Indo-US pair will now battle second seeds Sun TianTian and Zi Yan of China for a place in the doubles quarterfinals.

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