Jan 30, 2009

Sport - Tennis;Sania-Bhupathi enter final of Australian Open

MELBOURNE: Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi overcame a sluggish start to sail into the Australian Open mixed doubles final for the second consecutive
year as they beat Czechs Iveta Benesova and Lukas Dlouhy in straight sets on Friday

The Indians, who were runner-up at the Melbourne Park last year, trailed 1-3 in the opening set before storming back to seal the issue in 54 minutes.

In the summit clash, they will take on the unseeded French-Israeli combine of Nathalie Dechy and Andy Ram, who stunned seventh seeded Spaniards Anabel Medina Garrigues and Tommy Robredo 7-6 (9/7) 6-4.

It was hardly the kind of start Sania and Bhupathi, who have dropped just one set en route to the semis, would have wanted as Benesova and Dlouhy broke them in the opening game to race to a 1-3 lead.

However, the Indians got their act together soon after and broke back twice to take the first set in 32 minutes.

Sania and Bhupathi continued their dominance in the second set and broke their rivals thrice.

Such was their hold over the proceedings that the Indians did not face a single break point in the second set, which they wrapped up in a mere 22 minutes.

The win makes it a double delight for Bhupathi, who along with Bahamas' Mark Knowles, has also made the men's doubles finals to be played tomorrow.

Bhupathi has six mixed doubles Grand Slam titles under his belt with different partners.

His last mixed doubles Grand Slam was incidentally the Australian Open in 2006 when he had partnered Swiss Martina Hingis. Sania, however, would be aiming for her maiden Slam title.

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