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Miami Masters: Sania loses in quarters

Bethanie Mattek-Sands of USA (L) talks tactics with Sania Mirza of India

Bethanie Mattek-Sands of USA (L) talks tactics with Sania Mirza of India

Sania Mirza and Bethanie Mattek-Sands played lacklustre tennis to lose their quarter-finals to the world No.1 pair of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci in an error strewn match. The seventh seeds were eliminated 1-6, 4-6 in just 66 minutes, losing serve three times in each set.

The seventh seeded Mirza and Mattek-Sands broke their opponents to open the match on a sweet note, but lost their way immediately thereafter. Errani-Vinci restored parity by breaking in the next game before racing through the set with a commanding performance. At one stage, the Italian duo won 15 consecutive points to build a 5-1 lead.

Sania and Bethanie played with urgency in the seventh game to hold up their opponents even as they served for the set – but failed to convert from 0-40 as they wilted in the face of a determined effort from the top seeds to close out the set in just 24 minutes. The Indo-American duo were dealing with a plate full of problems – the effect of a poor 43% first serve percentage was compounded by the fact they won just a solitary point (1 out of 9) on their second serve, which left Sania and Bethanie far too vulnerable.

Seeking to somehow forget the miserable first set, Mirza and Mattek-Sands had their best service game of the match to take the first game of the second set at love. They even had an opportunity to go ahead at deuce in the second game, but the top seeds managed to prevent any damage. The Italians sought to press home their advantage, but Sania – Bethanie managed to save three break points from 15-40 to keep the set on serve.

In the fourth game, the top seeds threw their door open at 15-40 and this time Mirza – Mattek-Sands grabbed the opportunity to take a 3-1 lead and halt the slide. Unfortunately, that was to be just a short-lived pleasure as they surrendered serve in the next game to squander the advantage. But a third straight break in the sixth game restored the gap as Sania – Bethanie took a 4-2 lead. Unfortunately for the Indian, she and her partner were to have no further say in the contest.

Errani and Vinci won the next four games, twice breaking their opponents to coast in to the last four of the WTA Premier Mandatory event. The top seeded Italians won 75% of the second return points and converted 10 of 16 break points on the Sania – Bethanie serve. Last year’s runners-up will now take on Lisa Raymond and Laura Robson in the semi-finals. Raymond and Robson ousted Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina 6-3, 7-5 to reach the semi-finals.

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