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Sharapova stops Sania

By Sportsdesk
Last updated on: September 05, 2005 18:16 IST
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Sania Mirza's run at the US Open ended on Sunday when she was beaten by top seed Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-1 in the fourth round.

The 42nd-ranked Indian ace came up with her best showing in the tournament but it was not enough to overcome the solid all-round display of the gangling Russian, who will next meet countrywoman and ninth seed Nadia Petrova, who withstood some fierce hitting from Czech teenager Nicole Vaidisova before winning another fourth round match 7-6, 7-5 and reaching the quarter-finals for the second year running.

- Images from the match | Full coverage

Two breaks of serve in the first set and another in the second was all that Sharapova needed to take her place in the last 16.

Sania started with a flourish, matching Sharapova shot for shot. Her deep serves and double-handed backhand returns kept the Russian guessing in the first three games, which went on serve. She was down 15-40 in the fourth, but a couple of deep cross-court returns saw her take the game to deuce. Then the nerves surfaced as she double-fault on a second break point to give Sharapova the first break of the match.

But the India ace was undeterred by the loss of the fourth game and returned the break in the next at 30 to get the set back on serve.

It was only the tenth game Sharapova had dropped in four outings in the championship and it loss hurt. She stepped up the pace, moved the Indian around and succeeded in forcing two break-points. Though Sania did well to take the game to deuce with some solid backhand play, she could do little to prevent her second break of the set and allowing the Russian to go up 4-1.

In the seventh game, Sania looked like forcing another break as she led 40-0, but her second serve deserted her; Sharapova capitalised on it and got five points on the run to level scores and take the game.

Moving the ball on both flanks, the Russian ace then scored repeatedly and raced to 40-0 in the eighth game. Sania made it 15-40, but a brilliant down the line forehand gave Sharapova the first set at 6-2.

The opening game of the second set was replicate of the first as Sharapova won it at love. But Sania too did likewise, wining the next at 15 after racing to 40-0.

Three long returns saw the Indian down 0-40 in the third before Sharapova pocketed it.

Sania could have taken the fourth as she led 40-15, but two double faults - the second, her sixth of the match - saw deuce being called five times and Sharapova forcing the first break of the set for a 3-1 lead.

The Russian ace then stepped up the pace, serving two aces - her fifth off the set and sixth of the match - to take the fifth game in quick time.

Sania made a brave effort to stay in the match by moving the Russian around with deep returns in the next game, but her second serve deserted her. Added to that the Sharapova returned everything thrown at her to score another break and go up 5-1.

She then served out the set to clinch victory in 59 minutes.

For the record, Sharapova served six aces to Sania's one; double-faulted only once against the Indian's six and won 62 per cent of her second serves against 21 by the Indian, which, in the end, made a big difference.

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