Sania, Sunitha crash out of contention

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Beijing, Aug 13 (UNI) The hurriedly cobbled up combination of Sania Mirza and Sunith Rao sent the shivers down the spins of two seeded pair of Svettlana Kuznetsova and Dinara Safina before bowing out of the women's doubles event of the Olympic Tennis competition here today.

The scratchy Indian duo lost in straight sets 4-6, 4-6 in 85 minutes but not before giving their fancied rivals a scare.

A half-fit Sania Mirza and rookie Sunitha Rao tried every tricks in the book but still could not go past the rivals in a roller coaster of a match.

The Indian pair battled it out gamely but it was the seasoned Russian pair, which ended on the right side.

To their credit, the Indian girls tried their best but the Russians were simply head and shoulders above them and in the end, their effort was just to delay the inevitable.

Sania, battling a wrist pain that forced her to retire midway through her first round singles match, and Sunitha, who had right thigh heavily strapped, began in the right earnest, breaking both the Russians to go 3-0 up in the first set.

But before the set could slip through their fingers, the Russians fought back. Shocked by the reversal, they responded by breaking back Sania in the fourth and Sunitha in the ninth games to eventually seal the set in 43 minutes.

The Indians shrugged off the setback and resumed with renewed vigour and they broke Safina in the third game to go 2-1 up but the Russians were at it again.

They broke Sunitha in the fourth game to draw parity and even though Kuznetsova could not held her serve, the Russians placed themselves firmly in command of the proceedings and never relaxed their grip.

''It was really a gritty display,'' said coach Nandan Bal adding, ''Sania and Sunitha played their heart out and I say they did a wonderful job.'' All India Tennis Association (AITA) secretary general Anil Khanna who watched the match was also full of praise for the Sania-Sunitha duo saying, ''It was a great showing by both the players.'' UNI HSB RAR GC2125

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