Sania Mirza put up a brave effort but it was not enough as Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova won the battle in the women's singles second round match of the Wimbledon tennis championship in London on Wednesday.
The 18-year-old Indian showed great fighting qualities before losing 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6 in 137 minutes.
Sania, who had her fifth ranked opponent in trouble on a number of occasions, saw all her hard work going in vain on the Center Court of the All England Lawn Tennis Club after failing to be benefited from the advantageous position she had put herself in with some fine play.
The loss meant that Sania, the world number 75, failed to reproduce her performance of the Dubai Open where she had beaten her more fancied opponent earlier this year.
Sania, playing on her favourite grass court, also failed to match her Australian Open feat where she had made it to the third round.
Though Kuznetsova, who will turn 19 on June 27, won the contest, there was hardly any difference in the level of play with both the players hitting an almost identical number of winners -- Sania 35 to Kuznetsova's 38.
Sania, started the match on a great note, breaking her much-higher ranked opponent's serve in the very first game, much to the delight of her supporters in the Centre Court stand.
The Indian held her next two games and Kuznetsova her serve in between as the scoreline read 2-1 in favour of the Indian.
But making it clear that Sania was not going to have it easy, the Russian girl, a quarterfinalist in the 2003 edition of the event, squared the score with some perfect shots. Sania saved two break points before Kuznetsova converted the third to level the score.
The Indian raised hopes of clinching the first set when she broke the Russian again and held her own to take a 4-2 lead. But a plethora of double faults in her next game marred her hopes as Kuznetsova squared the scores yet again.
The Russian won the next two games with quite ease to pocket the first set.
Sania cruised to a 3-0 lead including two breaks immediately in the second set, before the Russian returned to winning ways, claiming two games on the trot to put the pressure back on the Indian.
But Sania, maintaining her cool, held her serve next to make it 4-2 before some keen tussle saw the lead changing hand with Kuznetsova winning three games consecutively to take a lead, 6-5, for the first time in the set.
Sania won her game as the set entered the tie-breaker which she won to take the match to the decider.
The Russian put her opponent under pressure breaking the third game in the decider and made matters worse for Sania by breaking her again three games later to make it 5-2.
Sania's last ditch effort, which saw her breaking Kuznetsova's serve once, could not stop the Russian from booking a third round berth.
Sania, who had won her first round match against Akiko Morigami of Japan on Monday, had already lost her doubles event as well.
She and her partner Anna Chakvetadze of Russia meekly surrendered in the first round against Alina Jidkova of Russia and Tatiana Perebiynis of Ukraine on Tuesday.