Melbourne Jan 17,
Mirza rewrote Indian tennis history as she registered her
first Grand Slam win and stormed into the second round of
the women's singles at the Australian Open in Melbourne on
Sania overcame a first set loss to down Australia's Cindy
Watson 3-6 6-3 6-0 in the first round to become only the
second Indian woman to win a grand slam match.
Nirupama Sanjeev was the first to accomplish the feat in
1998 and she too scored her only grand slam win at the Australian
It was not exactly flawless tennis from the 18-year old
Hyderabadi girl who entered the main draw as a wild card
which she earned after reaching the women's singles final
of the Asian Tennis Championships last year.
Sania hit only 32 winners and had 43 unforced errors including
three double faults. She was broken in her very first serve
of the match and dropped serves three more times.
But the teenager put it down to nervousness on the big
stage and said there was no worries about her form as such.
"I was quite tight in the first set and was also down
a break in the second set ... But I was hitting the net
and not long or wide," Sania said.
"Then I concentrated on making her play, and it worked,"
said the former Wimbledon girls doubles champion.
From the moment she was down 2-3 in the second set, Sania
began to tighten her game. She kept the ball in play, and
to her luck, Watson began to make mistakes.
The Indian went up 5-3 with her third break of the set
in the eighth game, and from there on there was no stopping
Sania as she reeled off 10 games in a row.
In all, Sania converted seven out of 12 break points as
against four out of 13 by Watson, another wild card herself.
The local girl, nine years elder to the Indian and appearing
in her home grand glam fifth time, wilted under pressure.
The set times began to shrink as Sania stepped on the gas,
the decider lasting only 26 minutes. She also served the only
ace of the match in the last game.
Sania got 34 WTA points for her first round win and moved
into the sub-150 in world rankings, another milestone in
her fledgling career.
Nirupama, again, was the last Indian woman to be ranked
above 150 which was almost eight years ago.
Sania's second round tie is on Wednesday when she plays
Petra Mandula of Hungary.
A win there would most probably pit her against American
Serena Williams in the third round, but the Indian is not
looking too far ahead.
"I know that. But I can't afford to think about it.
I am happy that I won the first round and want to give my
best in the next match," she said.