Bangalore: Camille Pin is blessed with a bigger tennis brain than a game. She got on Sania Mirza's nerves in the second set with a combination of patience and smart lobbing to send the top seed out of the Bangalore Open 1-6, 7-5, 6-2, at the KSLTA Signature Kingfisher Stadium on Wednesday.
The game started off with not the slightest hint of it being anything other than a regular Sania day. She sent in the sizzling returns, messed up the easiest shots, pulled off the most breathtaking passes, shook her head with regular annoyance and nothing to suggest the neck-cracking tactics that her opponent would come up with soon.
She did call for a trainer twice to attend to her elbow. But the post-treatment Sania continued to treat the ball with utmost disdain. The trouble began when the games started becoming lengthier, not something Sania fancies.
Pin, on her part, had two simple strategies. Lob and do nothing special. Some of the shots that flew off Sania's racket were obviously destined towards the corner of the court, but somehow Pin managed to reach them, much to Sania's annoyance.
The first serves weren't completing its journey and with Pin lobbing everything possible, Sania could not go for a winner. She tried her hand at something not familiar to her she sliced, played a couple of drop shots and even lobbed back, but Pin was patient, did some brilliant retrieving and took the match away.
There was brief hope when Sania saved four match points, but she couldn't sustain the style of play which was clearly alien to her.
"It was a different kind of a match. She did what she had to, to win. There was nothing much I could do when someone plays like that, I tried lobbing back on a couple of occasions but that's not how I play," said Sania.
"It takes practice to learn to play against such players. Her shots had no pace, and when you have so much time to hit, it's more difficult. I guess I have to learn to adapt," she added. When questioned on her serve, she said, "my elbow was hurting each time I served, so I'm not so disappointed with my serve."
"She's good at offence, I'm good at defence. The shots that I hit are not my natural style of playing, but I had to do something different after the first set. I also cut down on my mistakes, because I don't hit that many winners," said a delighted Pin.
Maria Elena Camerin can thank her stars that racket rights commissions do not exist in the game. After all the physical abuse that she subjected the hapless object to, she eventually overcame the second seed Shahar Peer 6-4, 6-2 in the first round.
But the start was far from auspicious for the Italian. Peer broke her in the first game itself, but not before half-a-dozen deuces, a few lucky net points and some moments of racket battering. But Camerin used her forehand to her advantage and executed a few serves with exaggerated bounce which Peer couldn't aptly respond to.
Most parts of the match seemed like endless replays of the same rallies, with Camerin looking to tire her opponent rather than blow her off the court. Her shots were hard and fast, but not always perfectly placed, but thankfully for her, Peer's shots were not directed towards the empty areas of the court. "It is not a shock defeat. Camerin is a great player, and deserved to win. I was mentally tired, but that is no excuse," said Peer.
Other results:Singles: Jelena Kostanic bt Daniela Kix 6-2, 3-6, 6-3; Alona Bondarenko bt Anastassia Rodionova 6-2, 6-1; Vania King bt Nicole Pratt 6-0, 6-1; Melinda Czink bt Mariya Koryttseva 6-2, 6-2.
Doubles: Su-Wei Hsieh/Tamarine Tanasugarn bt Akgul Amanmuradova /Julia Vorobyeva 7-6(7), 5-7, 6-2.