Sania loses to British qualifier at Stanford

July 16th, 2008 - 4:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Stanford (California), July 16 (IANS) India’s Sania Mirza faltered at the first hurdle in Bank of the West Classic tennis championship, losing to British qualifier Anne Keothavong in straight sets, 6-7 (4-7), 1-6. The 24-year-old British number one Keothavong, ranked 82 in the world, defeated fan favourite Sania in an hour and 19 minutes here Tuesday night.

Keothavong went a break up early in the opening set but 33rd ranked Sania, who was the runner-up here last year, soon fought back to level 4-4 before the first set went to a tie-break.

Keothavong then took a mini-break early and soon consolidated her position to take the tie-break.

Sania ran out of steam in the second set as the British girl tightened her game, allowing the Indian just a game in the entire set.

Keothavong now runs into sixth-seeded Italian Marion Bartoli.

The British girl is currently at a career high singles world ranking after a fine recent run of form. In May, the National Tennis Centre based right-hander won a $50,000 title in Lebanon and backed this up by reaching the final at the Surbiton Trophy and winning her first round match at Wimbledon.

“I knew I had to be solid because Sania can play hot and cold,” Keothavong said. “The longer each point went on, the more I thought I had a chance to win it.”

A dejected Sania admitted missing the power in her forehand post her wrist surgery.

“I feel like the wrist stops whipping,” Sania said. “Maybe I’m missing power. Suddenly it stops moving. Maybe the nerves stop firing. It’s very frustrating if it’s your weapon.”

Sania who will be representing India in the Olympics next month has been struggling with her form ever since her return from a wrist surgery in April.

She made a comeback in June in DFS Classic in Birmingham but went down 3-6, 0-6 to low ranked New Zealander Marina Erakovic in the second round after receiving a bye in the first.

Sania then crashed out in the second round of Ordina Open in Netherlands before meeting a similar fate in the Wimbledon.

Sania will now begin her doubles campaign in the tournament where she is teamed up with Russian Anna Chakvetadze.

The pair will meet the Czech combine Eva Hrdinova and Vladimira Uhlirova in their first round.

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