Sania Mirza took a set off Venus Williams, and pushed her for most of the early part of the third set, but just didn't have enough in her locker to topple the seven-time Grand Slam champion at the Family Circle Cup, Charleston, South Carolina.
Williams ran away with the first set 6-1 and was up a break in the second, leading 3-1 before a spirited Mirza fought back rattling off five games in a row to level the match at a set a piece.
The players traded a couple of breaks of serve each in the opening exchanges of the final set before Venus showed her experience and pulled away to seal the match in just under two and a half hours: 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.
Though the match score might seem fairly innocuous, Mirza made a real match of the marathon encounter, which lasted a massive 215 points - an average of 9 a game!
Mirza started the match rather poorly, serving at an abysmal 42% in the opening set, and dropped it with a couple of breaks of serve. She did have her chances though, failing to take any of the four break points she created on the Williams serve.
In the second set Williams broke the Mirza serve for 2-1, and then consolidate the break by holding her own serve for 3-1. Just as it seemed that the match was all but over , Mirza went for broke, and her efforts were well rewarded in an extremely long drawn out second set.
Mirza saved 10 of 11 break points, and took the only two chances that she created to sneak away with the set on her third set point.
The third set started in ding-dong fashion as Mirza broke the Venus serve straight off the bat to go ahead 1-0. Venus broke right back to register her first game in seven. Sania broke the Williams serve for a fourth straight time to once again take the lead in the decider.
However the Mirza serve just failed to find any rhythm in the final set, as Sania was broken again to level the set at 2-2.
Venus finally held her serve to go ahead 3-2. She broke Sania again in the following game to pull ahead 4-2. The five-time Wimbledon champion saved seven break points in the final set as Mirza refused to give up, but with her own serve completely gone to bits, Mirza finally capitulated 6-2 in the decider, winning only 6 of 22 points on her own serve in the final set.
This is the first time that Sania has taken a set of Venus in their three meetings so far, the last being in the round of 32 at the Australian Open in 2008. And though there is still a lot of work to do in terms of regaining the form that saw her climb to no. 27 in the world, the Indian tennis star can take heart from a really competitive performance that tested both her fitness and desire to the maximum.