World No 1 doubles player Sania Mirza's campaign in the women's tennis event at the Rio Olympics came to an end as she and her partner Prarthana Thombare lost their first round match to the Chinese pair of Shuai Zhang and Shuai Peng.
Zhang and Peng won a closely contested match 7-6(8-6), 5-7, 7-5 that lasted two hours and 44 minutes.
The Indian challenge in tennis now remains confined to Sania and Rohan Bopanna in the mixed doubles. It is the only event where the country has realistic medal chance.
Had her partner been close in terms of quality, Sania would have taken India home as she shouldered the bulk of the responsibility.
Prarthana, considered to be the weak link, showed fighting skills but the quality was simply not there. It was her poor service that cost India the match as she lost serve on multiple occasions.
In the first set that lasted 70 minutes, the serving was erratic for both the Indian as well as Chinese pairs as they traded breaks thrice.
The set went to tie-breaker and the seasoned Chinese pair clinched it at 8-6.
The second set saw the Indian combo take a 2-0 and subsequently 3-1 lead but their opponents came back well to make it 5-5.
The Chinese duo then lost serve as Sania-Prarthana won the set 7-5 in 49 minutes.
In the decider, the Indians conceded an early break as the Chinese pair went 3-1 up but Sania's booming returns
ensured that the Indians were back in even keel to make it 3-3.
In the ninth game, the Indians were broken again as Chinese pair served for the match at 5-4. But there was more drama in store as they were broken to level scoreline 5-5.
The Indians again lost serve before the Chinese pair closed the match in the 12th game.
Earlier, Leander Paes's dreams of winning a second Olympic medal went up in smoke as he and Rohan Bopanna made an inglorious exit in the opening round of the men's doubles, losing in straight sets to the Polish pair of
Marcin Matkowski and Lukasz Kubot 4-6, 6-7(6-8).
Playing in his record seventh and probably his last Olympics, Paes -- a bronze medallist at the 1996 Atlanta Games -- saw his campaign get over in only 84 minutes as not for once did the Indian pair look like having forged a winning combination.