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Sania faces Sunitha Rao in opener

Source: PTI
Last updated on: September 15, 2007 20:41 IST
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India's top ranked tennis player Sania Mirza, whose participation at the USD 175,000 Sunfeast Open is still doubtful due to a wrist injury, has been drawn against compatriot Sunitha Rao in the first round of the tournament starting in Kolkata on Monday.

For the third seeded Sania, who is scheduled to hit the practice court on Sunday before taking the final call on playing the tournament, the lung-opener should not pose much of a problem with wild card entrant Rao ranked 181 places below her in the WTA list.

The Florida-based Rao's best performance in the tournament has been a second-round finish in 2005, while she bit the dust in the first round last year.

Displaying good form, Sania has been moving northwards in the WTA rankings this season and now occupies the 27th slot, while Rao is ranked 208th.

Another Indian wild card entrant, the promising Tara Iyer, would clash against seventh seed Falvio Pennetta in the lung opener, as per the draw.

Fourteen-year-old Kyra Shroff -- the third Indian to bag a wild card -- also has a tough battle for a second round place opposite the eight seeded Chinese Taipei girl Yung-Jan Chan, who ranked 79th in the WTA list.

Top seed Marion Bartoli of France would begin her title campaign against 18-year-old Vania King of the US.

Bartoli, looking for her first tournament triumph this season after having bagged three singles crowns last year, is ranked 10th in the world.

US-based youngster King, who broke into the pro circuit last year, has displayed her proficiency as a doubles player with three titles under her belt. A member of the US Fed Cup team, King is now ranked 88th in the WTA list.

Second seed Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, ranked 12th in the world, would be pitted against Russian Yeroslava Shvedova in the first round.

Hantuchova, who made it to the final of the Bali Open and would clash with Lindsay Davenport in the summit round, would be hoping to steamroll past the relatively inexperienced Shvedova for a place in the last 16. The 81st ranked Russian, who turned pro in 2005, turned 21 on Wednesday.

The other marquee player of the tournament, fourth seeded Maria Kirilenko, also of Russia, may not have to sweat a lot in the first round as she would be up against a qualifier.

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