ZIMBABWEAN tennis star Cara Black and her Indian playing partner Sania Mirza were halted in their stride by the world No 1 Italian pair of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci in the women’s doubles quarter-finals at the Australian Open in Melbourne yesterday.
The sixth seeds lost 2-6, 6-3, 4-6.
Black and Mirza failed to cash in on a 4-1 lead in the third set and bowed out after an intense battle that lasted an hour and 48 minutes.
The top seeds will take on the winners of the match between fourth seeds Kveta Peschke-Katarina Srebotnik and unseeded Jarmila Gajdosova-Ajla Tomljanovic in the semi-finals.
The Indo-Zimbabwean won 81 points against 89 by the Italians, but committed as many as 24 unforced errors, which, in the final analysis, proved costly.
Errani and Vinci won the opening set comfortably, converting three of the five break-points they got, while saving one of the two Mirza and Black forced.
But Black and her partner came back strongly in the second set, scoring 11 winners against eight by the Italians. They also converted three of the five break-points they forced to take the game to the decider.
In the final set, they raced to a 4-1 lead, but just when they appeared well-set to clinch it, the top seeds reeled off the next three games to draw abreast at 4-4, saving six of eight break points, and proceeding to take the set and match at 6-4.
The sixth seeds would be disappointed with their performance especially after coming so close.
They hit 39 winners to their opponents’ 44, but it was the number of unforced errors (24) they made that would be the worrying bit.
Another cause for concern would be their failure to convert break-point opportunities. Mirza and Black won 15 break-point chances, same as Errani and Vinci, but managed to convert just six.