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Sania takes Bartoli in her stride
Rediff.com sportsdesk | September 02, 2005 22:53 IST
Last Updated: September 02, 2005 23:03 IST
Sania Mirza created history, becoming the first Indian woman to enter the fourth round of the US Open in New York, on Friday.
The 18-year-old sensation beat the 43rd-ranked Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli 7-6, 6-4 to set up a meeting with the winner of another third round match between Russian top seed Maria Sharapova and Germany's Julia Schruff.
After battling it out over three sets in the previous two rounds, Sania, ranked a notch above her opponent, went on the offensive after being broken in the first game to snatch a memorable victory in two sets and an hour and 35 minutes.
Sania lost her first service game as Bartoli proceeded to take a 2-0 lead, but she responded well and broke back twice to take a 4-2 lead.
However, she was broken in the eighth game and the set was level again at 4-4.
But brilliant ground strokes, especially two to break the Frenchwoman in the ninth game, were outstanding. The first was a powerful crosscourt forehand that gave her opponent no chance, which she followed up with a magical forehand down the line to take the break.
But, yet again, the Indian was broken, as Bartoli levelled to make it 5-5 before calling the trainer for what looked like some treatment on her left calf muscle.
With the scores tied 6-6, the first set went to the tie-breaker, where Sania imposed her authority by taking a 6-1 lead. Though she lost the next three points, she held on to win the tie-break 7-4.
The two players immediately exchanged breaks in the second set. First it was Bartoli's turn to win the first two games, but then Sania bounced back, winning the next three to lead 3-2. Both the players then held, but Sania broke when it mattered most, in the tenth game, to seal the match at 6-4.