Injury ends Sania Mirza’s Australian Open hopes

A nagging calf injury resurfaced and pulled her and women's doubles partner Nadiia Kichenok out of the Australian Open.

By Sandeep Banerjee ·

Coming off the high of winning the Hobart International, Sania Mirza was dealt a double-blow of bad fortune at the Australian Open.

A nagging calf injury she picked up during the Hobart International had already forced her to pull out of the mixed doubles match she was scheduled to play with Rohan Bopanna, and on Thursday, it prematurely ended her and partner Nadiia Kichenok's challenge in the women's doubles as well.

After conceding the opening set 2-6 against the Chinese pairing of Xinyun Han and Lin Zhu, the Indo-Ukrainian duo was trailing 0-1 in the second set when Sania Mirza was forced to retire from the match.

Sania Mirza and Nadiia Kichenok celebrate after winning their final doubles match at the 2020 Hobart International.

Not a pretty picture

Sania Mirza's struggles on the day were visibly apparent, as the 33-year-old toiled to move fluidly about on the court.

Although Nadiia Kichenok's opening service game was successful, it was with nowhere near the ease with which their Chinese opponents won the following game.

Then Sania Mirza's serve was broken at 2-4, and it was all downhill from there as the Indian-Ukrainian duo lost the opening set 2-6.

Following the first-set loss, Sania Mirza took a medical timeout. However, after stepping back in the fray and being broken in the opening game of the first set, she was unable to continue any further and decided to retire.

What next for India?

Mirza's exit comes on the heels of Rohan Bopanna's first-round loss with Japanese partner Yasutaka Uchiyama in their men's doubles match against Americans Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan.

Indian expectations at the Australian Open will now turn towards Divij Sharan in the men’s doubles and Rohan Bopanna in the mixed doubles.

The 33-year-old Divij Sharan, along with Kiwi partner Artem Sitak, managed to move on to the second round after successfully winning against the Spanish-Portugal duo of Pablo Carreno Busta and Joao Sousa 6-4, 7-5.

Meanwhile, Rohan Bopanna, who was forced to pair up with Kichenok in the mixed doubles after Sania Mirza's pullout, will face off against the French-Chinese duo of Nicolas Mahut and Zhang Shuai on Friday.

Paes setter

Also representing India in the mixed doubles at the Australian Open will be veteran Leander Paes. After being given a mixed-doubles wild card, the 1996 Olympics bronze-medallist will be teaming up with 2017 French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko.

The duo will go up against local wild card entrants Storm Sanders and Marc Polmans on Friday.