NEW YORK: India’s Sania Mirza produced a battling display to reach the second round of the US Open on Monday by defeating Olga Govortsova of Belarus 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
It was a hard-fought triumph for the 22-year-old from Hyderabad, whose willingness to force the pace by coming into the net made the difference in a game between two big hitters.
Mirza won the first set comfortably enough behind her trademark forehand, but she lost her way in the second as the tall 20-year-old from Minsk took command to level the scores.
The third set was a roller-coaster with first one player, then the other failing to hold their serves.
Mirza edged ahead 5-3 with another break of serve and this time she held on to reach the second round at a tournament in which she had her best-ever Grand Slam performance with a run into the fourth round on her debut in 2005.
But she will have to step up a gear when taking on in-form Italian 10th seed Flavia Pennetta if she wants to reach the third round.
Mirza, who was out with a wrist injury for much of 2008, has struggled to get back to her best form this year and the US Open is her best chance of improving on her world ranking or 74.
Her career best ranking was 27th in August, 2007.