I am back and ready to compete with big girls: Sania

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Melbourne, Jan 17 (PTI) Indian tennis sensation SaniaMirza, who gave a huge scare to former World No 1 JustineHenin-Hardenne of Belgium in the first round of the AustralianOpen today, said she is almost back to her best.

"I think this sends out a very big message as to where Istand now as a tennis player again," Sania said after goingdown 7-5 3-6 1-6 to the seven-time Grand Slams winner Henin inthe first round today.

"I have not played someone like that for a couple ofyears now and I showed I could compete against her," sheadded.

The 24-year-old, who booked a berth in the women''ssingles main draw of the Australian Open after going through atough qualifying route, gave Henin a run for her money today.

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 excellent winners and lookedalmost set to cause an upset when she stunned her 11th-seededBelgium opponent in a whirlwind first set.

"For me, to know I can match a player like that issomething I am really happy about. It gives me a lot ofconfidence that I am back and I am ready to compete with thebig girls."

Having won the first set that lasted an hour, Saniaraised hopes of an improbable Indian win but failed to makeany impact in the remaining two sets, allowing Henin to comeback right into the game and finally seal the match in littleover two hours.

"I am playing close to the level I was playing when I wastop 30 in the world. I want to take this momentum forward, Iam ready to be back where I was," said Sania.

Sania, who once reached as high as 27th in WTA rankings,slipped to 145 because to a recurring wrist injury lastseason, which resulted in her playing in the qualifying roundof the Australia Open. .

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