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Saturday, Jan 29, 2022
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Hyderabad Open

Sania Scripts History

The unseeded 18-year-old sparkles on her home turf as she becomes the first Indian woman to win a WTA Tour title in the $140,000 event. Updates

Sania Scripts History
| AP
Sania Scripts History
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Sania Mirza oscillated between occasional brilliance and erratic shot selection but raised her game when it mattered most to create history and become the first Indian woman to win a WTA Tour title in the $140,000 Hyderabad Open.

The unseeded 18-year-old, backed by a vociferous crowd, held her nerve in a scintillating final to beat ninth seed Alyona Bondarenko of Ukraine 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 at the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh complex.

It turned out to be a battle of nerves for both Sania and Alyona, both of whom were playing in their maiden Tour final, as they looked more than anxious to finish off the points and committed too many unforced errors in the bargain.

Sania, two years younger to her 102-ranked opponent, handled the pressure better in the two-hour encounter to send her thousands of supporters into wild celebration.

It was the final set which proved that the Hyderabadi lass has nerves of steel as she broke her opponent in the first, third and fifth games to race to a 5-1 lead and then managed to ward off tremendous pressure after dropping a match point and a service game to clinch the title.

It was not the best of starts for Sania, as she committed three double faults in her first service game to concede a 2-0 lead to Alyona in the first set.

But the Indian then came back strongly in the next game after being 0-40 down to break her opponent and then raced to a 4-2 lead by winning the next three games.

But, with the set almost there for her to win, Sania seemed to get over anxious to finish it off quickly and committed a number of unforced errors to put herself under pressure.

In fact, the local favourite wasted as many as nine set points and had to save three break points on her serve in the 10th game before wrapping up the set.

The second set began on a promising note for Sania as she got the break of serve in the very first game.

But it was struggle with herself thereafter as Sania lost her rhythm completely and had problems even in sending in her first serves, the barrage of unforced errors not helping her cause.

Sania lost serve in the second and sixth games to trail 2-5 and it was a spate of unforced errors by Alyona which helped her to hold serve in the eighth.

The rising star, who had earlier created history by becoming the first Indian woman to reach the third round of a Grand Slam at the Australian Open last month, made full use of the opportunity by saving three set points in the next game to break the Ukrainian and then held her own to level the score at 5-5.

The problems with shot selection once again surfaced as Sania wasted three game points to lose the set 5-7 and take the match to the decider.

The decider, however, turned out to be a one-sided affair as Sania raced to a 5-1 lead and then ensured there were no last minute blues.

Earlier, third seed Zi Yan and Jie Zheng of China stunned Olympic gold medallists and compatriots Ting Li and Tian Tian Sun to lift the doubles title.

Yan and Zheng, who became the first Chinese women to reach a Grand Slam singles fourth round at Roland Garros last year, were in total control and never really threatened by their fancied opponents, cruising to a 6-4, 6-1 victory.

Seeded third, Yan and Zheng seemed a confident lot from the word go and took a 2-0 lead in the opener and 3-0 in the second set to assert their supremacy.

After a fairly well-contested first set, Yan and Zheng tightened their grip and overwhelmed the title winners at the Athens Olympics, who were second seeded here but appeared to be struggling to get their act together.

PTI

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