Testing time for Sania in her bid to improve Slam record
Melbourne: Coming back from a knee injury, Sania Mirza face a stern test to improve her Grand Slam record when she opens her Australian Open campaign against Bulgaria`s Tsvetana Pironkova, here on Monday.
The injuries crippled the later-half of Sania`s 2011 season and she is short of match practice since the US Open.
Only twice has world No 105 Sania managed to reach the second round of a Major in the last two seasons.
Doing well is very crucial for Sania since she needs to improve her ranking to be eligible for a direct entry into the London Olympics.
Winning matches in Grand Slam helps ranking improve cosiderably but the road is tough for the Indian.
Pironkova, who is currently world No 48, is a talented youngster who reached Wimbledon semifinals in 2010 and quarter-finals last year although she struggled at other Grand Slams in the same period.
Sania has played one event in lead up to Australian Open and lost in the qualifiers.
Since Somdev Devvarman has withdrawn from the tournament, Sania is lone Indian representative in the singles.
In the doubles, yet again senior pros Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi will be contenders, albeit with different partners.
Bhupathi had paired with Rohan Bopanna whie Paes has partnered Radek Stepanak.
Paes warmed up for the Australian open in nice way, winning the Chennai Open pairing Janko Tipsarevic.
Bhupathi-Bopanna reached the semifinals and are gradually improving as a team.
Australian Open is the only Grand Slam neither Paes nor Bhupathi has won. They tried to complete the Slam kitty by joining hands last season but the title slipped out of their hands as they lost in the final.
Now that they have parted ways yet again, it will be interesting to see if they are lucky this time.