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Sania loses to Zheng in singles final
December 13, 2006 16:20 IST
Last Updated: December 13, 2006 18:15 IST
India hopes of a three-gold haul in the tennis event at the Asian Games were dashed when Sania Mirza was beaten by China's Jie Zheng in the women's singles final at the Khalifa Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha on Wednesday evening.
The Indian ace, ranked 66th, was outplayed by the world number 33 and went down 6-4, 1-6, 6-1 in an hour and 49 minutes, leaving a packed house deflated.
"It was tough," a beaming Zheng told reporters. "Everyone was supporting Sania, so I had to keep going in the final set."
Sania, who had easily overcome China's Na Li in the semi-finals, found the going tough against the gritty Zheng. Though the Indian had more power in her strokes, Zheng worked out her game well. She slowed down the pace of the match and made the Indian ace do the running. The players traded breaks in the sixth and seventh games, but Zheng cracked Sania's serve in the tenth to take the first set 6-4.
The Chinese had to call the trainer on court to nurse a thigh strain in the second set. After winning the first game, she was unable to hold serve in her next three and handed the Hyderabadi the second set without much of a fight.
Having saved her energy for the decider, Zheng surged back into the match, breaking Sania in the first game at love. The Indian had her chances to break back, but Zheng finally took the second game after it had gone to deuce four times.
Sania seemed to run out of steam and the errors started coming fast and furious once she was 1-3 down; she gave up the next three games without a fight as Zheng added to China's bulging gold tally.
The 20-year-old Indian was full of praise for her opponent after she rattled off precise two-handed ground strokes to win key rallies in the third set.
"On the whole I should have done better," said a dejected Sania after the match.
Sania, who collected a warning after hurling her racket into the ground in frustration, denied the pressure of Indian expectations got to her.
"I don't feel pressure, it only motivates me," she said. "That's why I'm still smiling."
Sania is still in the running for a gold medal finish, as she and Leander Paes take on Satoshi Iwabuchi and Akiko Morigami of Japan in the mixed doubles final later in the day.
Doha Asian Games 2006: The Complete Coverage