Sania Mirza marked her return to Wimbledon for the first time since 2017 with a win in women’s doubles with American partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands. The duo knocked out sixth seeds Desirae Krawczyk and Alexa Guarachi to move to the second round on Thursday.
Sania and Mattek-Sands were a bit rusty at the start but once they got their rhythm they dominated the match and won 7-5, 6-3 against the American-Chilean combination in one hour and 27 minutes.
However, Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan went down in the first round of men’s doubles. The Indian pair was beaten by 11th seeds Eduard Roger-Vasselin and Henri Kontinen 6-7(6), 4-6.
The Indo-American pair were under pressure early in the match when Mattek-Sands served the third game that featured seven deuce points. The American served three double faults in a slow start but eventually held the game after saving three break points.
Mirza and Mattek-Sands too had two opportunities to break their rivals but the American fluffed a volley from the net before left-handed Krawczyk served extremely well to eventually hold.
Guarachi hit a forehand wide at 15-30 to hand two set points to their rivals in the 12th game. It was the chance that Indo-American pair did not squander with Mirza finishing off the set with an overhead smash.
In the second set, Mirza and Mattek-Sands opened up a 3-1 lead when they broke Guarachi again.
Matte-Sands’ low backhand return was hit back uppishly and Mirza latched on to that with an unreturnable smash. With a 3-1 cushion at hand, Sania and her partner never looked back.
With Ankita Raina taking the court later in the day with American partner Lauren Davis, there will be a bit of history for Indian tennis at the Championships as for the first time, two women players from the country are competing in the main draw of a Grand Slam.
For Raina, it will be her third successive appearance at a tennis major, having made her debut at the Australian Open this year.
Mirza has been the lone Indian competing at the biggest stage of the game since 2005.
Before that, Indian-American Shikha Uberoi had qualified for the US Open women’s singles in 2004 and also won her first round against Japan’s Saori Obata before losing to Venus Williams.
Uberoi never could make the Grand Slam main draw again and after that it was Mirza who kept India represented on the WTA tour.
Way back, Nirupama Vaidyanathan was the first to crack a singles Grand Slam main draw in 1998 at the Australian Open, while Nirupama Mankad played the 1971 Wimbledon mixed doubles with Anand Amritraj.
With PTI Inputs