Somdev, Sania''s ouster end India''s Aus Open singles campaign

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Melbourne, Jan 17 (PTI) India''s campaign in both men''sand women''s singles event in the Australian Open ended on asour note with Somdev Devvarman and Sania Mirza going downfighting in their respective first round matches here today.

While, Somdev went down fighting to Tommy Robredo ofSpain in straight sets 6-7(4) 3-6 4-6, Sania managed to bag aset before losing 7-5 3-6 1-6 to former World No 1 and winnerof seven Grand Slams Justine Henin-Hardenneof Belgium.

Somdev, who was handed a wildcard after his impressiveperformance last year, posed some threat to the world no 52Robredo, who was once ranked as high as number 5, buteventually failed to sustain in a contest that lasted twohours and 37 minutes.

On the other hand, the 24-year-old Sania, who booked aberth in the women''s singles main draw of the Australian Openonly after going through a tough qualifying route, gave Henina run for her money.

Henin had to draw all her trademark fighting spirit toavoid a disastrous first-round departure from the mega-event.

Sania, during her seventh straight Australian Openappearance, came up with some winners and looked almost set tocause an upset.

Having won the first set that lasted an hour, Saniaraised hopes of an improbable Indian win but she failed tomake any impact in the remaining two sets, allowing11th-seeded Belgian to come back right into the game andfinally steal the match in a little over two hours.

Sania, though hardly had any real chance of registering awin in the first round, after being drawn against a toughopponent in Henin, who on her part is also making a comebackafter missing the US Open because to an elbow injury sufferedat the Wimbledon last year.

Sania, who once reached as high as 27th in WTA rankings,has slipped to 145 because to a recurring wrist injury lastseason.

Sania''s best singles performance at the Australian Openhas been third round appearances in 2005 and 2008. She had wonthe mixed doubles title with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi in2009, which is her only Grand Slam title.

Earlier, the gutsy 25-year-old Somdev, who was making hisdebut in the Australian Open, tested Robredo in the firstset, but the Spaniard then brought all his experience to foreto ultimately prevail with a 7-6 win.

Robredo, however, did not have much difficulty in thenext two sets.

Somdev could not break his first round jinx this year ashe had lost in the opening round of the Aircel Chennai Openalso.

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