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Sania Mirza first Indian to reach women's doubles Grand Slam final

Thursday June 02, 2011 05:07:59 PM, IANS

Paris: Sania Mirza created history by becoming the first Indian woman to enter a Grand Slam doubles final.

Sania, who lifted a Grand Slam title when she won the mixed doubles with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi at the Australian Open in 2009 after losing the final the previous year, is in the midst of her best year on the Tour.

From a career-best ranking of 27 in 2007, Sania went hurtling down to 141 at the start of the year after a series of injuries in the last two years.

It was a hard grind for Sania who had to qualify for even second-tier Tour events. She received a wildcard at both the Dubai and Qatar Open and the turnaround came when she won three matches to qualify for the main draw at the season's first Grand Slam, the Australian Open.

Sania not only improved her singles ranking steadily to 72 before she came to Paris but she also made rapid progress in the doubles with Russian Elena Vesnina. The two women came together at the Qatar Open and quickly established themselves as a potent doubles combination.

Sania and Vesnina were seeded seventh here. Their 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, upset win over fourth seeds American Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond was preceded by their stunner against top seeds Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pannetta at Stade Roland Garros.

The 37-year-old Raymond is a former French Open doubles champion and her partner Huber has won four Grand Slam doubles titles with Zimbabwean Cara Black, but she doesn't have French Open title to her credit yet.

Sania and Vesnina played some brilliant tennis to 4-1 up in the first set and in 30 minutes they were a set up. However, a stream of errors saw them lose the second set. Both the players came back strongly in the decider and Elena served out the set and the match.

The Indo-Russian pair play Czechs Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka in the Friday's final, with the winning team splitting $475,000 prize money.

The unseeded Czech pair shocked third-seeded Vania King of the US and Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-3. King, a former partner of Sania, and Shvedova are the reigning US Open and Wimbledon Champions.

Sania and Elena, who won titles at Indian Wells and Charleston, hold a 20-4 record. Until Wednesday, they had not dropped a set in the tournament.

The two finalists have met once before, with Sania and Elena winning in straight sets in the first round at Indian Wells. Vesnina is the only one of the four finalists to play in a Grand Slam women's doubles final, having been runner-up at the 2009 French Open alongside Victoria Azarenka and in 2010 Wimbledon alongside Vera Zvonareva.

Hlavackova and Hradecka are the second unseeded French Open finalists in 30 years, the others being the 2008 runners-up Casey Dellacqua and Francesca Schiavone. If they win Friday, they would be the sixth unseeded team to capture a major in three decades.




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