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Sania-Ankita pair knocked out of Tokyo Games

Last updated on: July 25, 2021 11:03 IST
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The Indian pair frittered the advantage of winning the first set 6-0 and lost to Ukrainian twins Nadiia and Liudmyla Kichenok.

The Indian pair of Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina flattered to deceive in their women's doubles opener at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday.

IMAGE: India's Ankita Raina and Sania Mirza react during their first round match against Lyudmyla Kichenok of Ukraine and Nadiia Kichenok. Photograph: Piroschka Van De Wouw/Reuters

Sania Mirza and debutant Ankita Raina were knocked out of the Tokyo Olympics despite dominating a large part of their women's doubles opener against Ukrainian twin sisters Nadiia and Liudmyla Kichenok, on Sunday.

 

The Indian pair look as if they would cakewalk through the contest after breezing through the first set. However, the Kichenok sisters rallied splendidly from the dead to pull off a 0-6, 7-6(0,) 10-8 victory on court 11 of the Ariake Tennis Centre.

Sania was serving for the match at 5-3 in the second set but nerves got the better of her and ended up dropping serve.

From there on, it was not the same match, in which the Ukrainians looked out of sorts, struggling with their serves and returns.

The Indians became the prey and Ukrainians attacked.

Sania and Raina were down 1-8 in the Super Tie-break but reeled off seven straight points to make it 8-8 only to lose the next two points and exit from the Games.

The Indians broke the Ukrainians in the second game to open up a lead in the first set. What followed was a sequence of holds for the Indians. In just 21 minutes, the Mirza-Raina pair had the first set in the pocket.

The Kichenok sisters got on board when Raina's backhand return sailed over the baseline in the second game of the second set.

Raina went up 40-15 in the third game but buried a forehand return on the net and Mirza also fumbled at the net to get to deuce point. The younger Indian though served out the game with consecutive points.

Nadiia's two double faults put the Ukrainians in trouble but they came out unscathed with some solid net-play, making it 2-2.

Sania hit a crushing forehand winner to earn a break chance in the sixth game but Raina's backhand return was dispatched for a drop volley winner. Another chance came India's way but Raina netted her backhand from the baseline.

A backhand service return winner from Sania earned the Indians another chance and they did not squander it this time to go up 4-2.

Raina had an easy hold in the next and now they were one game away from the second round.

Serving for match, Sania was down 15-30 but pulled off a well-calculated lob to ward off the danger. However, she made two consecutive errors to hand the Ukrainians their first break, the second being a long backhand.

From there on, the match changed dramatically and the Ukrainians started calling the shots.

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