Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza fell at the final hurdle of the qualifying rounds of the women's edition of the Rogers Cup on Sunday.
With the main draw accepting only 44 direct entries including all 16 of the World's top players, there was a good chance for the qualifying field to seek a berth in this highly lucrative event with 12 places up for grabs through only two rounds of play.
Sania was made to work hard in her opening qualifying round match by Canadian Marie-Eve Pelletier on Saturday, struggling to a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 win. But she wasn't quite as lucky against another local girl, 22-year old Heidi El Tabakh, ranked 121 places below Mirza at 195 in the world.
Tabakh raced through the first set 6-1, as Mirza failed to get going at all. Though she failed to find the range on her serve in the second set either, dropping it twice, she did make the most of her opportunities on the El Tabakh serve, winning 75% of the points on her opponents second serve, and levelling the match at a set all 1-6, 6-3.
The final set saw both girls lift the level of their play, as they tried desperately to sneak an advantage. Mirza would regret in the end not taking any of her five break opportunities in the decider, as one bad game cost her the match. El Tabakh took just 7 points off the Mirza serve in the last set, but put a bunch of them together in the 6thgame, which saw her take the only break point she got, to wrap up the tie 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 in a shade under 2 hours.
El Tabakh also eliminated the qualifying section's top seed, world No.35 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Saturday. Joining El Tabakh in the main draw are other seasoned campaigners Julie Coin, Maria Kirilenko, Maria Rybarikova among others.Sania will play in the doubles event in the competition alongside her new partner Francesca Schiavone of Italy. They open their campaign against Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan and Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia.