Paris: After her average Australian Open campaign, Sania Mirza finally found her rhythm as the Indian tennis ace upset World No 16 and sixth seed Italian Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 7-6 (5) to storm into the second round of the $600,000 WTA Open Gaz de France tournament here on Tuesday.
The Coubertin Stadium crowd was treated to an impressive match with two exciting talents testing each other and eventually Sania had the last laugh in what seemed to be an 85-minute groundstroke exhibition.
Sania meets Tatiana Golovin in the second round after the unseeded French teenager beat Marta Domachowska of Poland 6-0, 7-5 in another first round game.
Sania and Pennetta came up with an awesome display during the match and both remained mostly on their respective baselines, hardly coming to the net.
The first set saw both exchanging break before Sania, cheered by the crowd in her first appearance at the Open Gaz de France, raised her game and pocketed the first set breaking her opponent thrice in the process.
In the second set, Pennetta, however, looked determined to turn the table on the Indian ranked 16 rungs lower than her and the Italian raced to a 4-1 lead but Sania came back strongly to level it 5-5 and save a set point as well.
This certainly frustrated Pennetta, who briefly lost her concentration and Sania held her serve to stretch it to tie-breaker.
The tie-breaker also had the crowd on the edge of the seat with the first four points lost by the servers. Sania did not lose her cool and came back from behind to win the tie-break and seal the match.
``It is always a great feeling to beat a quality player and the win over sixth seeded Pennetta is one of my big wins,'' said Sania
At Paris (Open Gaz de France): First round: Sania Mirza (Ind) bt Flavia Pennetta (Ita) 6-2, 7-6(5); Virginie Razzano (Fra) bt Kveta Peschke (Cze) 6-1, 6-1; Vera Dushevina (Rus) bt Ivana Lisjak (Cro) 7-6(4), 6-0; Tsvetana Pironkova (Bul) bt Lucie Safarova (Cze) 6-2, 2-6, 6-0; Anabel Medina Garrigues (Esp) bt Tathiana Garbin (Ita) 6-3, 1-6, 7-5; Anna Smashnova (Isr) bt Severine Bremond (Fra) 6-1, 6-2; Tatiana Golovin (Fra) bt Marta Domachowska (Pol) 6-0, 7-5; Elena Dementieva (Rus) bt Sofia Arvidsson (Swe) 6-2, 6-2.
At Pattaya (Pattaya Women's Open): Second round: Shahar Peer (Isr) bt Maria Sanchez Lorenzo (Spa) 7-6(4), 6-3; Nuria Llagostera (Spa) bt Aleksandra Wozniak (Can) 7-5, 6-2.
First round: Melinda Czink (Hun) bt Zheng Jie (Chn) 6-0, 6-2; Mara Santangelo (Ita) bt Vania King (U.S.) 6-3, 6-1; Sun Tiantian (Chn) bt Alla Kudryavtseva (Rus) 6-3, 6-2. Agencies