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Australian Open 2017: Indian junior Zeel Desai shines as seniors struggle

India's Mihika Yadav is also through to the next round.

Exclusive 23 Jan 2017, 10:05 IST
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 21:  Zeel Desai of India competes in her first round match against Kaitlin Staines of Australia during the Australian Open 2017 Junior Championships at Melbourne Park on January 21, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images)
Zeel Desai will play her Round 3 match next

Indian tennis junior Zeel Desai, who is competing in the Australian Open girls’ singles, today took a strong straight sets win over Germany’s Jule Niemeier, 6-4, 6-2. The 18-year-old took an hour and ten minutes to finish off her German rival in the pair’s Round 2 match.Zeel Desai, a Gujarat based player, has had a successful juniors career, and last year broke a record held by Sania Mirza, winning her 11th career title in Hong Kong.

Today, the teenager was very successful on breaks, capitalizing on 4 of 7 break points she generated today. She held serve ably as well, with a near-impenetrable defense put up against Niemeier.

The 18-year-old last year had a strong run with another successful Indian junior, Pranjala Yadlapalli. 

Desai will next face Serbian World no. 13 Olga Danilovic. 

The Ahmedabad-trained player ended 2016 as the 968th-ranked player on the WTA standings, and is currently ranked 866 on the ITF standings. 

Mihika Yadav, also 18 and at a combined ITF ranking of 66th, is through to Round 2 after a 6-3, 6-4 win over Ali Collins of Great Britain. She will  now play Mai Hontama of Japan, who is the 10th seed at the Australian Open girls’ singles. 

Among the seniors, perhaps the biggest upset was defending champion Sania Mirza and her partner Barbora Strycova, who were together seeded fourth in the women’s doubles, crashing out to the unseeded pair of Eri Hozumi and Miyu Kato of Japan. 

15th seeds Rohan Bopanna and partner Pablo Cuevas also lost to the Australian combine of Alex Bolt and Bradley Mousley in the Round of 32, but Bopanna and Leander Paes are going strong in the mixed doubles, with partners Gabriela Dabrowski and Martina Hingis respectively.

Paes and Hingis take on the all-Australian pair of Casey Dellacqua and Matt Reid in their Round of 16 match today.

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