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India's Sania Mirza and her doubles partner Elena Vesnina of Russia defeated Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 in an engrossing three setter to enter the finals of the French Open in Paris on Wednesday. The seventh seeded duo will now have a title showdown against the unseeded combo of Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic for the much desired silverware. The Czechs knocked out the 3rd seeded pair of American Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova from Kazakhstan in straight sets 6-3, 6-3 in the other semifinal. Moreover, by making it to the final Mirza created history as she became the first Indian woman to reach the final of Roland Garros.
Earlier in the tournament the Indo-Russian pair had crushed the top seeds Italian Flavia Pennetta and Gisela Dulko of Argentina in the quarterfinals on Monday. Significantly, throughout the one hour 45 minute contest the first lady of Indian tennis did not seem to be in any apparent pain although she wore a protective strap just below her left knee.
The Indian Wells champions made a nervous start to the match as Sania lost her serve to go down 1-2 in the opening set. But the no.7 seeds immediately broke back to make it 2-2. In the sixth game the Indian hit some ferocious forehands to break the Americans to surge ahead 4-2. The Indo-Russian pair continued their impressive display as Sania held for a 5-2 lead, subsequently capturing the set 6-3 on their third set point.
In the ensuing set Sania and Vesnina lost their composure as their rivals upped their game to break the Vesnina serve to go up 2-0. The set turned out to be a slugfest as both sides went on a serve breaking spree, however, it was the seventh seeds who suffered more as they were broken thrice to lose the set 6-2 in just 38 minutes.
In the decider, Mirza - Vesnina once again regained the upper hand as they broke the US duo in the very first game, then held to make it 2-0 and consequently went up 3-1. However, Huber and Raymond were not going down without a struggle and fought back to square the set at 3 all. Nonetheless, Sania and Vesnina were in no mood to lose either as they responded brilliantly by breaking the 4th seeds in the next game for a 4-3 lead.
Mirza produced a good service game, landing a high percentage of first serves to reach within a game of victory. Sania and Elena were forced to close out the match on their serve as Huber held their serve to make it 4-5. Vesnina raced to 40-0 in her service game and closed out the match on the third time of asking to reach their maiden Grand Slam final as a team.
Since they first paired in February this year, the pair has won two titles, the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in March and another title a month later in Charleston. This would be Sania's third appearance in a Grand Slam final; the previous two being mixed doubles finals at the Australian Open in 2008 and 2009 with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi. While they had lost the championship in 2008, Mahesh and Sania captured the trophy the following year.
File Photograph Copyright: Odlum Brown VanOpen
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