Category Archives: Tennis

Mixed fortunes for Sania Mirza at Kremlin Cup

The Gisela Dulko syndrome continued to haunt Sania Mirza as the Indian number one fell to her Argentinian nemesis in the first round of the Kremlin Cup on Tuesday.

Kremlin Cup, MoscowThe 6-3, 6-4 defeat at Moscow’s Olympic Stadium was Mirza’s third straight loss to Dulko in WTA tour meetings. And she hasn’t been able to take a set off the 41st-ranked player yet.

Though Mirza had a better first serve percentage than Dulko at Moscow (63 to 58), she also committed nine doublefaults, which ultimately proved too costly in the 85-minute match.

The loss was Mirza’s 18th out of a total of 48 matches on the WTA Tour this year.

Mirza had lost to Italy’s Flavia Pennetta in the quarterfinals of the Japan Open last week in only her third match since the US Open.

But the 20-year-old had better luck in the evening at the Moscow doubles event, where she partnered Switzerland’s Patty Schnyder to easily beat Vera Dushevina of Russia and Tatiana Perebiynis of Ukraine 6-1, 6-3 in less than an hour.

Sony Ericsson WTA TourIn the quarterfinals, Mirza and Schnyder will be pitted against top seeds Cara Black of Zimbabwe and Liezel Huber of the US.

There is hope yet as Mirza, ranked 20th in doubles, had beaten the world’s best pair in the New Haven final in August – in partnership with Italy’s Mara Santangelo.

Even luck deserts Bopanna at ATP Stockholm

Spain’s Albert Montanes put paid to the hopes of India’s Rohan Bopanna with a 7-6(5), 6-1 win in the first round of the ATP Stockholm Open.

Bopanna, who had entered the main draw as a lucky loser, squandered an impressive 4-1 lead in the first set to lose to the Spaniard in little more than an hour.

Montanes, a claycourter ranked 48th in the world, was expected to be a tough opponent so it was a surprise when the 252-ranked Bopanna broke him in the second game and the scoreboard soon read 4-1 in his favour.

But the Indian’s lead in the first set was wiped out when Montanes held serve twice and broke back in the seventh game.

At four games apiece, Bopanna served an ace – his first of the match. Both players then held their serves to take the set into the tiebreak.

Stockholm OpenBopanna took the first point there but soon fell behind 4-6. He managed to save one setpoint but lost the next. Interestingly, Bopanna had won more points (39) compared to Montanes (37).

When the set slipped from his grasp, Bopanna’s confidence deflated, just as it had deserted him in his match against Peter Wessels in the qualifiers of the indoor tournament.

Montanes raced away to a 3-0 lead, breaking Bopanna’s serve in a game which went to deuce. Two games later, the Indian number one was down 0-40 on his own serve and Montanes broke him again lead 5-1. The Spaniard served for the match in the following game and won on the first of two matchpoints.

In the doubles event, Bopanna survives in partnership with Belgium’s Olivier Rochus. The duo had beaten Thomas Johansson of Sweden and Todd Perry of Australia 6-2,6-7(4),10-8 in a thrilling first round encounter on Sunday that lasted for an hour and 22 minutes.

Lucky loser tag gets Bopanna into Stockholm draw

Thanks to last minute withdrawals, India’s Rohan Bopanna has managed to get a main draw spot at the ATP Stockholm Open despite losing in the qualifying rounds.

Stockholm OpenBopanna and Max Mirnyi of Belarus have entered the singles draw as Lucky Losers after Tommy Robredo and Tomas Berdych pulled out of the indoor hardcourt tournament.

India’s number one singles player, currently ranked 252 on the ATP list, is slated to play Spain’s Albert Montanes in the first round on Monday. Bopanna would be playing the 48-ranked Montanes for the very first time on the ATP Tour.

The winner of that match will play either fourth seed Tommy Haas of Germany or Olivier Rochus of Belgium in the second round.

Earlier on Sunday, Peter Wessels of the Netherlands had beaten Bopanna 7-5, 6-2 in the second round of qualifying.

In the doubles event, Bopanna paired up with Rochus to beat Thomas Johansson of Sweden and Todd Perry of Australia 6-2,6-7(4),10-8 in a thrilling first round encounter that lasted for an hour and 22 minutes.

Mustafa Ghouse loses in semis of Ethias Trophy Challenger

The dream run of doubles specialist Mustafa Ghouse at the Ethias Trophy Challenger in Mons, Belgium ended with a semifinal defeat to an unheralded European duo.

ATP Challenger SeriesGhouse and his Australian partner Alun Jones went down fighting 6-7(7),6-2,10-6 to Poland’s Tomasz Bednarek and Slovakia’s Filip Polasek at the indoor event.

Ghouse, currently ranked 218 in the ATP doubles rankings and fourth in India, had achieved his highest career ranking of 131 in August this year and his performance at the Mons tournament is likely to see him back in the top 200.

Ghouse and Jones had beaten top seeds Yves Allegro of Switzerland and Kristof Vliegen of Belgium in the quarterfinals – by an impressive 6-3, 6-3 scoreline.

Some Tough Luck for Sunitha Rao

ITFHere’s some bad news in store for fans of Sunitha Rao. The Florida-based player was ousted in the second round of the USTA Tennis Classic at Troy, Alabama by her 296-ranked nemesis Alexa Glatch.

The 18-year-old American carved out a hardfought 7-6(4),7-6(3) victory over seventh-seeded Rao. It was Glatch’s third straight win over Rao, having also beaten her in 2004 and in the final of the $25,000 Southlake, Texas tournament in July this year.

In the doubles quarterfinals, Rao and her Australian partner Christina Wheeler(AUS) lost 6-4,6-7(4),8-10 to the American pair of Angela Haynes and Mashona Washington.

Sunitha Rao back to business at Troy

Back on US soil after an unsuccessful stint at Kolkata’s Sunfeast Open, Sunitha Rao easily advanced to the second round of the USTA Tennis Classic at Troy, Alabama beating 215-ranked German Carmen Klaschka 6-0, 7-6(1).

After blazing through the first set, the 195-ranked Rao faced tough resistance from the 20-year-old Klaschka in the second.

But it was Rao, India’s number two tennis player after Sania Mirza, who prevailed in the tiebreaker.

ITFThe Florida-based player, seeded seventh here, will now face American Alexa Glatch for a place in the quarterfinals of the $50,000 ITF event.

Although ranked only 296, the 18-year-old Glatch leads Rao 2-0 in career meetings, having beaten her in 2004 and in the final of the $25,000 Southlake, Texas tournament in July this year.

Rao had bowed out of last month’s Sunfeast Open in the second round with a 3-6, 2-6 loss to Britain’s Anne Keothavong.

Sania Mirza crashes out of Japan Open

Sania Mirza crashed out of the AIG Japan Open on Thursday, losing 4-6, 4-6 to good friend Flavia Pennetta of Italy in the quarterfinals.

AIG OpenMirza, seeded second at the WTA Tier III event in Tokyo, couldn’t find her rhythm against the eighth-seeded Pennetta – whom she had beaten in straight sets in their only previous meeting at the Open Gaz de France, Paris in February 2006.

Mirza actually led 2-0 in the first set before Pennetta broke back and the momentum swung her way, enabling the Italian to serve for the set at 5-4.

A crucial double-fault by Mirza, which gave Pennetta the break and a 4-3 lead in the second set sealed the match in the Italian’s favour.

Sony Ericsson WTA TourIt was Mirza’s 17th loss on the WTA Tour this year as opposed to 30 wins. Her run to the singles quarterfinals earned the 20-year-old Hyderabadi $7105 and 65 WTA points.

Mirza’s doubles campaign at the tournament with American partner Christina Fusano also came to an end after the duo withdrew citing an abdominal strain before their quarterfinal match against second seeds Sun TianTian and Zi Yan of China.

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.

AIG OpenThe 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).

Sony Ericsson WTA TourRazzano 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.

Easy win for Sania Mirza in first round of Japan Open

Sony Ericsson WTA Tour

Sania Mirza made a winning return to the WTA Tour with a 6-0, 6-4 win over local hope Ayumi Morita in the opening round of the AIG Japan Open in Tokyo.

Mirza, sidelined by a wrist injury following her third round loss at the US Open last month, showed no sign of rustiness – blazing through the first set without dropping a game.

The Indian then seemed to let down her guard, with the 17-year-old Morita breaking Mirza’s serve in the very first game of the second set. A game later, the Japanese player was two points away from leading 3-0.

But Mirza, ranked 29 in the world, came back strongly to take the next three games and then broke Morita in the eighth game to lead 5-3.

Serving for the match, Mirza was broken again but recovered to break back and vanquish the 139-ranked Morita in little more than an hour.

It had been Mirza’s 29th win on the WTA Tour this year as opposed to 16 losses.

Up next for the 20-year-old from Hyderabad is 84-ranked Australian Cassey Dellacqua, whom she has never played before.

MIRZA’S RANKING TAKES A HIT

Thanks to her unplanned break from tennis, Mirza’s singles ranking slipped to 29 on Monday – two places down from her career-best 27 in late August. Her doubles ranking has also taken a beating with Mirza now down to 20th in the world. A good result at the Japan Open should reverse the ebb in rankings.

TOURNAMENT PREVIEW AND POSSIBLE OPPONENTS

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.

AIG OpenIn the quarterfinals, Mirza could run into eighth seeded Italian Flavia Pennetta whom she had beaten in their only career meeting in Paris last year.

But Mirza’s toughest test would lie in the semifinals where she’s seeded to play Maria Kirilenko (3) of Russia or 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. Also on a winning streak is Kirilenko, champion at Kolkata’s Sunfeast Open – a tournament doomed by Mirza’s absence and Twenty20 cricket.

Mirza leads 2-0 in career meetings against Kirilenko but the Russian is playing her best tennis – her fine run at last week’s Hansol Korea Open broken only by Venus Williams in the final.

Kirilenko’s spectacular results in September have also helped her overtake Mirza in the latest rankings.

Should Mirza survive, awaiting her in the final would be world no 8 Venus Williams, herself on a roll after the Seoul victory.

In the doubles event, Mirza is partnering little known American Christina Fusano and hopes to emulate her semifinal appearance here in 2005 when she partnered Israel’s Shahar Peer.

Bopanna falters in Mumbai doubles final

Kingfisher Airlines Tennis Open - ATP MumbaiFor the second year in a row, Rohan Bopanna was at the losing end of the Kingfisher Airlines Open doubles final.

He and Pakistan’s Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi went down fighting 6-7 (3), 6-7(5) to third seeds Lindstedt and NieminenRobert Lindstedt of Sweden and Jarkko Nieminen of Finland in Mumbai on Sunday night.

In the end, the Scandinavian duo proved just too good in the tie-breakers.

Rohan BopannaAisam QureshiFor the Indo-Pak pair, this was their first ATP tournament together. The loss shouldn’t bog them down too much – after all they won four Challenger titles on the trot in July and August.

Bopanna, 27, had also made the final at Mumbai last year with Mustafa Ghouse only to lose to doubles specialist Mahesh Bhupathi and Croatia’s Mario Ancic.

While Bhupathi withdrew with a bad back this year, there was no news of India’s number 1 doubles player Leander Paes.