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Sania closes in on Sharapova clash

By Simon Cambers
September 01, 2005 11:19 IST
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Indian teenager Sania Mirza refused to get too excited about a potential fourth-round showdown with top seed Maria Sharapova after reaching the last 32 at the U.S. Open on Wednesday.

India's most famous sportswoman reached the third round at Flushing Meadows with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 win over Maria Elena Camerin of Italy.

Should the 18-year-old defeat Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli in her next match, Mirza will not only become the first Indian woman to reach the last 16 of a Grand Slam event but could also face Sharapova across the net.

Mirza, however, was not about to tempt fate.

"I do know who I play (in the fourth round but) I'm not looking at that yet," said Mirza, who also reached the third round at the Australian Open this year.

"I guess I'm playing the best tennis I've ever played (but) it's always one match at a time. You can't just jump ahead."

Mirza hit the headlines in January when she reached the third round of the Australian Open before losing to eventual champion Serena Williams.

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Born in Mumbai but raised in Hyderabad, Mirza began playing tennis aged six and quickly rose through the ranks, winning five titles on the ITF Women's Circuit in 2004.

She reached the second round at Wimbledon in June and having contested the final at Forest Hills on Saturday, Mirza arrived at Flushing Meadows as the world number 42.

With the billion plus population of India following her every move, Mirza is arguably the most popular player in the tournament.

"I am not like a movie star but I guess they are all excited at home," she said.

"It's very nice when you have people from your own country and the country you don't belong to cheering you on, so much crowd support, especially where you don't belong. I'm 30 hours away."

Despite her huge popularity at home, Mirza has been criticised by some people for baring flesh in her tennis gear.

The 18-year-old said she was no different to anyone else.

"No Muslim is perfect and no human being is perfect," she said.

"I guess I'm not dressing the way Islam states but I guess we all make mistakes and that's why Islam has forgiveness."

Sania Mirza page 

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Simon Cambers
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