Miami, Mar 24 (UNI) Sania Mirza's joy after being adjudged the WTA Newcomer of the Year 2005 was cut short as the Indian waged a two-hour, 39-minute marathon battle before going down to Georgian teenager Anna Tatishvili in the first round of the Miami Open.
It was a see-saw match with Sania and the 16-year-old Georgian wild card at the 3,450,000 dollar Tier I event and in the end, the younger of two two, ranked 1144, had the last laugh with a 7-6(6) 1-6 7-6(8) win.
A product of the Chris Evert Academy, Tatishvili was hoping for her first match victory in her fourth career Tour event and the greenhorn outdid her illustrious Indian rival in crunch situations for a memorable win Sania faced stiff resistance right from the beginning as the Georgian stretched it to tie-breaker and showed immense composure to win the set.
Stung by the reverse, Sania was in her elements in the second set and she dropped just one game to draw parity.
Tatishvili, however, was soon back in the game and threatened to run away with the decider as she went 4-0 up in the third set before Sania regrouped well and stretched it to the tie-breaker.
Despite leading there, Sania again lost her grip over the match and Tatishvili was more than grateful to wipe out the large deficit in the tie-break and seal the match in her favour.
Sania was all praise for her 16-year-old rival and said, ''She hung in there and she was playing some great tennis.'' ''She's young and she's a great player. I'm sure we're going to see a lot more of her." This was Sania's third first round exit in seven events this year and the Indian was not clearly amused.
''I guess it's a bit tough when you're not really playing the best tennis and the other girl is just playing some unbelievable shots.
A beaming Tatishvili said, ''I just really wanted to win. I was nervous, I never played in such a big court and in front of a lot of people. Before the match, (Chris Evert) told me 'Just forget about it... just you, the ball and the opponent, and that's it.''' UNI XC AY GC1346