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AAG tennis: Sania Mirza wins gold

October 30, 2003 11:44 IST
Last Updated: October 30, 2003 14:32 IST

India's new tennis rage Sania Mirza on Thursday completed a double gold outplaying compatriot Rushmi Chakravarthy in straight sets in the women's singles final of the inaugural Afro-Asian Games at Hyderabad.

In the all-India summit clash, local girl Sania, who led India to the women's team gold, overcame a tough first set to carve out a 7-6 (7/6), 6-3 win over her doubles partner and former national champion Rushmi in 78 minutes.

The 16-year-old is in line for two more golds as she is slated to play in the women's doubles with Rushmi and mixed doubles with Bhupathi later in the day.

India's first Wimbledon girls doubles champion Sania, who had an easy semifinal against Philippines' Czarina Arevalo on Wednesday, got her powerful forehands and backhands going well and played some delightful shots from close to the net, putting Rushmi under pressure.

But 26-year-old Rushmi stuck to her baseline game and engaged Sania in good rallies to make her commit occasional mistakes. The latter, however, improved upon her serves and ground shots in the second set to emerge winner at the packed Fateh Maidan Tennis Stadium.

Sania, who had beaten Rushmi in the title clash of a ITF tournament in Indonesia recently, also had a couple of lucky points in crucial stages, including one in the tie-break.

"I am really happy that I have won two golds. Let us hope I can get the other two too. I was lucky, particularly down 4-5 in the tie-break when the net chord went in my favour. I really wanted to thank god for that," she said. Rushmi also said the lucky points made a big difference.

"It was anybody's game. Had I been able to win the first set, it would have been tougher."

It was Rushmi who held the advantage in the first set, breaking Sania in the third game itself, but the latter broke her back in the sixth to level the scores 3-3. The rivals held their serves with ease from there and both came up with good deep serves and winners.

Sania led 4-2 at the tie-breaker but surrendered the initiative before Rushmi who took a lead with the score 5-4. But a net chord saw Sania close the gap before taking the set with a powerful backhand winner.

Rushmi began the second set on a strong note, holding her serves without conceding a point and broke Sania in the very next game, with the latter's hasty forehand going out. But Rushmi conceded a break in the third.

Sania broke Rushmi again in the seventh, with another net chord going in her favour. At the scores on deuce, Rushmi made a double fault besides being unable to get her first serve on target.

Serving to stay in the match in the ninth game, Rushmi made a series of errors, hitting a forehand long and an
attempted drop shot into the net as Sania held three match points and clinched the issue.

On conceding early breaks in both the sets, Sania said she was unable to get her first serves and also had a little bit of shoulder, elbow and wrist pain. "I wasn't getting my rhythm," she said.

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