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Aig Japan Open Tennis Championship

, The sensational Sania Mirza upset top seed

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> Aig Japan Open Tennis Championship, The sensational Sania Mirza upset top seed
post Oct 8 2005, 11:52 AM
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The sensational Sania Mirza upset top seed Vera Zvonareva of Russia in a thrilling three-setter to storm into the semi-finals of the $170,000 AIG Japan Open Tennis Championship. Seeded eight in this Tier III event, Sania fought her way back after conceding the first set to carve out a 5-7 6-2 6-4 win against the 22-ranked Russian in 2 hours 28 minutes. The win fetched the Indian, placed 37th on the WTA rankings, a semi-final date with third seed Tatiana Golovin of France who won 3-6 6-2 6-2 against local favourite and fifth seed Ai Sugiyama in the quarter-finals.

Sania broke Zvonareva twice in the opening set, but each time surrendered the advantage on her own serve before hitting an easy overhead into the net at 30-40 in the 12th game to lose the set. But she rallied in the second and third sets, firing her forehands on both sides of the court for a series of winners and never allowing Zvonareva to go up. Sania, a trail blazer back home in women's tennis, was pretty pleased with her quarter-final effort.

"I think I played one of my best matches," said the 18-year-old after the match. "On the important points, she would play a great point with good ground strokes, which kind of confused me. She was the number one seed, and I'm happy that I was able to play my game," Sania said. Zvonareva blamed her defeat to a loss in concentration. "I started out OK. I think I played well in the first set, but then I lost my concentration and couldn't get my game back."

"She's a good player. For me, it was important to concentrate on my game and do what I needed to do, but I couldn't play good tennis throughout the whole match," she said. Sania's form, however, eluded her in the doubles where pairing with Israel's Sahar Peer, she lost 1-6 4-6 to the second seeded duo of Gisela Dulko and Maria Kirilenko in the semifinals.

Fourth seed Maria Kirilenko of Russia, fresh from her first career title at the China Open two weeks ago, joined Sania into the semi-finals after beating the 2002 Japan Open champion, American Jill Craybas, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2. Second seed Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic defeated Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 for a place in the semi-finals against Kirilenko, while third seed Tatiana Golovin of France completed the all-teen semi-finals by beating Japan's Ai Sugiyama 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

On Thursday, Sania Mirza kept herself in fine form to beat Japan's Aiko Nakamura to set up a quarter-final match against top seed Vera Zvonareva at the Japan Open tennis tournament. The 18-year-old Mirza aggressively attacked Nakamura's short balls and weak serves to get off to a flying 4-0 start and she never faced serious trouble afterwards before scoring a 6-1, 6-4 win.

"I thought I played a good match. I had a solid start to the match in the first set. In the second set, she picked up her game, but I think I played well when it mattered on the important points," said the eighth seed. "I knew that she can run well and that she likes a certain pace, so I tried to change the pace as much as possible. "She hits a very solid ball and takes it early, so she can also make you run a lot, but I stuck to my game and played my shots," added Mirza.

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