Bhupathi and Sania win Australian Open mixed doubles title (Lead)

February 1st, 2009 - 2:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Melbourne, Feb 1 (IANS) Mahesh Bhupathi won his 11th Grand Slam title, the first with an Indian partner Sania Mirza when they beat Israel’s Andy Ram and Nathalie Dechy of France in the Australian Open final here Sunday.It was Bhupathi’s seventh mixed doubles title while Sania become the first Indian woman to win a Grand Slam.

Bhupathi, 34, had reached the men’s doubles final here with Mark Knowles of Bahamas but went down to No.2 seeds American twins Bob and Mike Bryan Saturday.

Bhupathi and Sania were at their dominating best and dispatched Ram and Dechy 6-3, 6-1 in just 55 minutes at Melbourne Park.

Bhupathi’s first mixed doubles title came way back in 1997 with Rita Hiraki in the French Open. He went on to win two Wimbledon titles (Elena Likhovtseva, 2002 and Mary Pierce, 2005), two US Open (Ai Sugiyama, 1999 and Daniela Hantuchova, 2005), and his last one came here with Martina Hingis in 2006.

The Banglorean has four men’s doubles title, three of which came with Leander Paes with whom he once formed a formidable pair.

For 22-year-old Sania, who burst onto the international scene in 2005 reaching the third round of Australian Open, it is her maiden Grand Slam.

The Indians had reached the final here last year, but finished runners-up as they lost to Chinese Tian-Tian Sun and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia. They entered this year as unseeded, but went on to play outstanding tennis throughout the tournament.

Bhupathi and Sania were in control of the match right from the start as they broke Ram in his first service game. The Israeli-French pair came back to snap Sania’s service in the fourth game and draw level 3-3.

The Indians then broke Dechy’s service with some outstanding returns. They cracked Ram once again in the ninth game with some fine volleying to win the first set in 28 minutes.

Bhupathi and Sania raised their game in the second set and quickly went 5-1 up, breaking their opponents twice. Sania then held her serve to finish the match.

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