Sania makes winning return to WTA circuit; Barty survives Pavlyuchenkova scare in Adelaide - GulfToday

Sania makes winning return to WTA circuit; Barty survives Pavlyuchenkova scare in Adelaide

Sania makes winning return to WTA circuit; Barty survives Pavlyuchenkova scare in Adelaide

Sania Mirza and Nadia Kichenok (unseen) in action against Oksana Kalashnikova and Miyu Kato during their doubles match of the Hobart International tournament on Tuesday. Courtesy: Twitter

Indian tennis star Sania Mirza on Tuesday made a winning comeback to WTA circuit as she advanced to the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles event at the Hobart International tournament.

Mirza, along with her Ukrainian partner Nadia Kichenok, beat Oksana Kalashnikova of Georgia and Japan’s Miyu Kato 2-6, 7-6(3), 10-3 in a contest that lasted for more than 100 minutes.

In an exciting contest, Mirza and Kichenok didn’t start off well and went down 2-6 in the opening set. However, they pulled things back in the second set, winning it 7-6 (3). In the deciding set, the Indian-Ukrainian pair raised the and displayed superior tennis to make it to the last eight.

“Today was one of the most special days of my life...To have my parents and my little baby boy supporting me in my first match after a little less than two and a half years... and to top it off we even won our first round with my partner Nadia Kichenok. Feel very grateful and thankful for all the messages, support and love I am receiving….Belief!!! Takes you places Yes my baby boy we did it,” Mirza said in a social media post following her victory.

Mirza and Kichenok will now face Vania King and Christina McHale of US for a place in the semi-finals.

Three-time doubles Grand Slam winner Mirza is making a return to competition after a two-year hiatus away from tennis, initially due to injuries and then welcoming a son in October 2018.

The former world No.1, won the Australian Open doubles title in 2016 following a successful 2015 season in which she claimed the Wimbledon and US Open doubles titles, all paired with Martina Hingis.

Mirza, regarded as her country’s greatest women’s tennis player, became the first Indian to win a WTA singles title in 2005.

She reached the fourth round of the US Open in the same year, and by 2007 was among the women’s top 30.

She is due to partner American Rajeev Ram in the mixed doubles at the Australian Open next week.

Meanwhile, world number one Ashleigh Barty survived a scare on Tuesday before battling through her opening match at the Adelaide International to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in three tough sets.

The top seed, who had a bye in the first round at Memorial Drive, faced a struggle to get past her experienced Russian opponent 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 and book a place in the quarter-finals.

The Australian was joined in the last eight by second seed Simona Halep, who made her 2020 competitive debut with a 6-4, 7-5 defeat of Ajla Tomljanovic.

Halep is back with Adelaide coach Darren Cahill after his family leave during 2019, and the Romanian said getting through the opening match of the season is an annual challenge.

Barty went up a double break of serve up in the deciding third set, but lost the edge as Pavlyuchenkova levelled at 5-all.

But the 31st-ranked Russian, who now stands 3-3 in their head-to-head, lost her own serve on a forehand wide as Barty took a 6-5 lead and closed out the win a game later after two hours, 10 minutes.

Former US Open champion Sloane Stephens didn’t fare as well, crashing 6-2, 6-2 to 201st-ranked Australian qualifier Arina Rodionova.

The American, whose last match was a second-round ouster in Beijing on Oct.1, exited in 72 minutes, dropping serve four times.

Rodionova worked her way through qualifying rounds, defeating a pair of top 100 opponents to earn her spot in the draw.

Elsewhere, Maria Sakkari of Greece made quick work of Vitalia Diatchenko of Russia 7-5, 6-2.

Last year’s French Open finalist, Czech Marketa Vondrosova, played her first match since picking up an arm injury at last year’s Wimbledon, defeating Tatiana Maria in Adelaide 6-3, 6-0.

German Julia Goerges will line up for a quarter-final place fourth seed Belinda Bencic after defeating Australian wild card Priscilla Hon 7-6 (9/7), 6-3.

In the men’s draw, Britain’s Dan Evans reached the quarters with a 7-5, 6-2 defeat of Alexander Bublik. American qualifier Tommy Paul beat Aljaz Bedene 6-4, 6-4.

Australian Jordan Thompson was put out 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3 in the first round by Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Agencies