Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sania to take on Alberta Brianti in French Open 1st round

Sania Mirza will take on Italian Alberta Brianti in her opening singles match of the French Open in Paris starting Sunday.

The Indian ace, who returned to action a fortnight ago from 2-1/2 months' lay-off following a knee injury, would run into seventh seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia if she manages to clear the first hurdle.

The 20-year-old Hyderabadi girl is in the third quarter of the draw which also features Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova as the third seed, Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova, seeded 12th, and former champion Anastasia Myskina.

Sania would be aiming to erase the memories of a heartbreaking loss to Brianti last year on the WTA Tour, the only time the duo has faced each other so far.

Since her reurn from injury layoff, Sania has been struggling with her singles form and made first round exits from the two WTA events she played after returning to court.

However, the Hyderabadi player has been in excellent doubles form, winning the Morocco Open and reaching the final of the ongoing Istanbul Cup.

Sania would be guided by reputed Spanish coach Gabriel Urpi during the Grand Slam fortnight at Roland Garros.

Urpi, a former ATP Tour player, worked with former women's singles champion Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and currently tied up with WTA players Flavia Pannetta and Virginia Ruano Pascual.

Meanwhile, the Indian fans would have to wait for a while to see Sania pair up with Mahesh Bhupathi on the Grand Slam stage.

The combined doubles ranking of the two players -- Sania is currently ranked 37th and Bhupathi 23rd -- is unlikely to get them into the main draw of the mixed doubles for which the cut-off is expected to be around 56.

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