Indian tennis player Sania Mirza marked a winning comeback to the WTA circuit after she and her doubles partner Andreja Klepac of Slovenia defeated Nadiia Kichenok and Lyudmyla Kichenok to progress to the quarterfinals of the Qatar Open in Doha on Monday.
Sania and Klepac won 6-4 6-7(5/7) 10-5 against the Ukrainian pair in the opening round of the WTA 500 tournament.
An early break put Sania and Klepac down 0-3 and struggling at deuce in the fourth game but they managed to hold on, getting on board.
The Indo-Slovenian pair needed just one break to get back on serve and they got that in the seventh game, breaking the Kichenok sisters at love in the seventh.
With an easy hold, they were 4-all and pocketed the set with another break.
The Ukrainians again drew the first blood in the second set for a 3-1 lead but Sania and Klepac fought hard to drag it to the tie-breaker but could not stop the rivals from pushing the contest to a Super Tie Breaker.
The Indo-Slovenian pair raced to a 5-1 lead in a jiffy and closed the match, converting the second match point.
This was Sania’s first competitive match in 12 months after playing at Qatar a year ago before the lockdown, which was imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic, halted all sporting activity around the world. Sania had contracted COVID-19 earlier this year, but recovered in time for the tournament in Doha.
Sania had paired with Nadiia Kichenok and won the Hobart International tournament in January 2020 after making her return to competitive tennis following the birth of her son in 2018.
Last year, Sania Mirza brought home the country’s first-ever Fed Cup Heart Award in Asia/Oceania category after getting more than 10,000 votes out of the total 16,985 votes cast for 2020’s three regional Group I nominees.
(With inputs from agencies)