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Updated: January 17, 2010 15:52 IST

Sania lone hope in singles, Lee-Hesh to target elusive title

PTI
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NARROW HOPE: Sania in training. Sania will yet again hold the Indian interest in the singles at the first Grand Slam of the season. File photo
The Hindu NARROW HOPE: Sania in training. Sania will yet again hold the Indian interest in the singles at the first Grand Slam of the season. File photo

Sania Mirza would look to improve on her third round appearance while Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi would target the only title missing from their Slam kitty when they compete in Australian Open, beginning here tomorrow.

With Somdev failing to make the main draw, Sania will yet again hold the Indian interest in the singles at the first Grand Slam of the season.

The Hyderabadi will open her campaign against world number 27 and 26th seed Aravane Rezai of France in the first round tomorrow.

Sania would draw inspiration from her last year’s rare feat achieved here when she became India’s female Grand Slam winner after winning the mixed doubles title with Bhupathi.

She will figure in three events - singles, women’s double and mixed doubles - but fans would be curious to see how she fares in the women’s singles.

Her best performance came here in 2008 when she reached the third round. She has a tricky opener in Aravane but if she plays to her potential she can beat the French player.

Last time the two players clashed was at Madrid event last year with the French coming out as the winner. Sania had beaten Aravane way back in 2006 in Kolkata in their first meeting.

Old warhorses Paes and Bhupathi have won all the three other majors in their illustrious career and men’s doubles trophy at the Australian is the only one which has eluded them so far.

Paes and Dlouhy have a reasonably good warm up to the hard court Slam as they ended runner-up at the Brisbane event though suffered early exit at Auckland event.

Bhupathi and his new partner Max Mirnyi of Belarus are yet to play together again but there won’t be any problem in adjusting as they have paired before and have been successful.

Incidentally Bhupathi won his last men’s doubles Grand Slam title with Mirnyi way back in 2002. So he would be hoping that this reunion would end the drought.

At the season opener Chennai Open, Bhupathi had partnered Davis Cup teammate Rohan Bopanna and had an ordinary outing as they lost in the second round.

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