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Sania Mirza ends tennis career with first round defeat in Dubai




A illustrious chapter in Indian sport and an illustrious career came to an end on Tuesday as Sania Mirza played her last match as a professional tennis player at the WTA Dubai Duty Free Championships. Sania, who is one of the greatest tennis players ever to emerge from India, ended her illustrious career with a straight sets defeat to American partner Madison Keys in Dubai on Tuesday. Sania and Keys went down 4-6, 0-6 to Russian pair of Vernokia Kudermetova and Lyudmila Samsonova in just over an hour. The 25-year-old Veronika is ranked No. 11 in singles and No. 5 in doubles while Lyudmila is world No. 13 in doubles.

Just a month ago, Sania played her last Grand Slam and finished runner-up in the Australian Open with compatriot Rohan Bopanna.

Sania, now based in Dubai, would have hoped to conclude at her second home but she ran into a strong Russian pair that stalled her in the final tournament of a career in which she won 43 WTA doubles titles and one singles trophy.

Success was not the only achievement of Sania’s nearly two-decade-long career, but baseless controversies kept following Sania.

At times she was relaxed and kept going, achieving many firsts. Sometimes she broke down to such an extent that she contemplated not playing in India.

It was then that he had to prove his love and loyalty for India after he was accused of disrespecting the tricolor during the 2008 Hopman Cup in Australia.

Perhaps the worst derision was hurled at her when she was called Pakistan’s daughter-in-law because of her marriage to Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik. This was after Telangana selected him as its state ambassador.

All this, despite his inspiring on-court success.

After all, how many top-30 tennis players have been made from India? How many people excelled in majors? In how many formats did he become world number one? How many people won the year end championship? There are only a handful in men’s tennis and only Sania in women’s tennis.

And there is no such player who is coming close to Sania’s achievement. The gap is huge and even the best are slowly fading after Sania.

Sania, 36, who turned pro in 2003, exits competitive tennis with six Grand Slam titles, including three women’s doubles with Swiss legend Martina Hingis.

She won two of the three mixed doubles titles with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi (2009 Australian Open and 2012 French Open). He won the US Open trophy with Bruno Soares.

However success eluded him on the biggest stage: the Olympics. She was close to winning bronze at the 2016 Rio Games but lost the play-off with Bopanna.

In the final match of his career, the opening set traded breaks at a rapid pace which was locked at 4–4. From there, Kudermetova and Samsonova once again broke Sania and Keys to lead 5-4 and put themselves in a position to serve out the set.

He did so comfortably and dropped a point in the 10th game.

Sania and her partner were broken in the very first game of the second set and it was one-way traffic thereafter.

With .PTI Inputs

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