ZIMBABWE female tennis ace Cara Black and her Indian playing partner Sania Mirza failed to make an impression at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships after crashing out in a closely-fought first-round women’s doubles match on Tuesday.
Black and Mirza went down in a match against Czech Republic’s Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Safarova 7-6, 5-7, 1-0 (11-9).
The Indo-Zimbabwean pair rallied from 0-2 down to 4-2 in the first set, but allowed Hlavackova and Safarova back into the contest after winning just one of the next five games to trail 6-5.
Despite a dramatic leveller, they then lost the tie-break.
The second set was just as tight with both tied at 4-4 but, after Hlavackova and Safarova got their noses in front, Mirza and Black then rattled off the next three games to force a 10-point tie-break to decide the winner.
According to Gulf News, the Black and Mirza’s loss was met with a lot of disappointment by Indian fans who had come in their numbers to support the pair.
Indian ace Mirza has a good record at the Dubai Open tournament following her two consecutive final appearances at the tournament.
Mirza and American Bethanie Mattek-Sands beat Slovenia’s Katarina Srebotnik and Russia’s Nadia Petrova for the crown here last year, although she finished runners-up alongside Russia’s Elena Vesnina against the USA’s Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond in 2012, the report added.
Black, who celebrated her 35th birthday early this week, is also no stranger to final appearances in Dubai — having won three consecutive doubles titles here from 2007.
Indian fan Hima Vaghani (41) said that despite Mirza’s disappointing early exit she would continue to follow the matches at the Aviation Club.
“It’s a shame she’s been knocked out in the first round because she’s been in the finals quite a few times,” Vaghani said. “It was a really close match and I think they did their best. All the matches seem to be really close this year.
“I just come to watch good tennis. I’m not coming here because she is Indian or anything like that. I just think it’s a great atmosphere and it’s a really nice time of year to watch sport.”
But fellow Mirza supporter Sanjay Bhatia (43) said Mirza’s early exit could affect the tournament’s sub-continent appeal.
“Definitely the Indians will not come now,” Bhatia said. “I came to see her win and, after winning the second set, it looked like she could do it. If it was a regular game, she would have won, but it was a tie-break, so it was more down to luck.
“The other two were from the same country, so there was better bonding. If the two players are from the same country, it becomes a matter of national integrity. But they knew the opposition’s weakness and could have taken advantage. It was so close.”