It was a day of mixed fortunes for India at the WTA Hyderabad Open on Tuesday, as home favourite Sania Mirza turned in a dominating performance against Romania's Delia Sescioreanu and Shikha Uberoi went down fighting to Hungary's Melinda Czink.
On center-court of the SAAP stadium, Sescioreanu not only fought the Indian prodigy across the net but also waged a losing battle against the 5,000-odd spectators who cheered wildly for Mirza.
In the end, the Indian teenager was up for the challenge and did well to score a convincing 6-2, 7-5 victory.
"I really wanted to win the match. For the past two years I have been losing in the first round," said Mirza later.
"I hadn't played against her. I only watched some of the action during her doubles qualifying match and knew that her backhand was stronger, so tried to play her on the forehand."
The noise was overwhelming for the Romanian teenager as she surrendered the first set meekly.
Mirza was able to break Sescioreanu in the fourth and eighth games of the set, showcasing her powerful groundstrokes and lethal forehand.
"I played very well today, apart from a couple of points here and there," Mirza added.
The second set, however, was closely fought. After exchanging breaks in the fourth and the fifth games, the set was level at 5-5. Sescioreanu then served out a difficult seventh game, in which she saved five break-points, to stay in the match.
Mirza, however, earned a break of serve in the 11th to go up 6-5 and then served out the match.
She will face the fourth seed Jie Zheng of China in the second round.
"Zheng is a seeded player; she's been a top-100 player, so I don't have anything to lose against her. I will just go out there and play my best," said Mirza.
Her doubles partner, Shikha, who suffered from a thigh strain in the third set, however, found the going tough against the tall Hungarian and lost 7-6, 3-6, 2-6.
Uberoi led in the first two sets but couldn't capitalize on the advantage. After leading 5-2 in the first, she let Czink draw level at 5-5 and take the set to the tie-break, before winning it at 7-2.
Thriving on the vociferous support, she kept pushing hard and led 2-1 in the second set. But Czink clawed back and powered her way to take the set at 6-3.
By the third set, Uberoi had run out of energy; the fist-pumping was less conspicuous. She called for medical assistance before going down 2-6 and crashing out in the first round.
Results: Mara Santangelo beat Jelena Dokic 7-6 (2), 6-3; Jarmila Gajdosova beat Ting Li 6-3, 6-2; Na Li beat Marie-Gayanay Mikaelian 6-3, 6-3; Melinda Czink beat Shikha Uberoi 6-7, 6-3, 6-2; Evio Dominikovic beat Shiho Hisamatsu 6-0, 6-3; Tamarine Tanasugarn beat Akgul Amanmuradova 6-4, 4-6, 6-1; Sania Mirza beat Delia Sescioreanu 6-2, 7-5; Anna-Lena Groenefeld 6-2, 1-6, 6-3; Maria Kirilenko beat Tatiana Poutchek 6-3, 6-1.
Doubles: Anastasia Rodionova/ Ma-Emilia Sallerni beat Tzipora Obziler/ Shahar Peer 6-2, 6-2; Mara Santangelo/ Adreea Vanc beat Ekaterina Bychkova/ Tatiana Poutchek 6-2, 1-6, 6-3; Ting Li/ Tatiana Sun beat Monique Adamczak/ Nicole Kriz 2-6, 6-0, 6-1.