Melbourne: Sania Mirza crashed out of the singles event of the Australian Open after suffering a 3-6, 2-6 hammering at the hands of Russian 10th seed Nadia Petrova in the second round.
The Indian ace, who is making a comeback to competitive tennis after a long injury lay-off, squandered break points in both the sets to see early curtains on her campaign.
With Sania’s defeat, Indian challenge ended in the singles action in the first Grand Slam of the year.
Cashing in on little mistakes of big players is imperative to tame them but the Indian player missed on those chances in both the sets.
The unseeded Indian did show some improvement in her ground strokes as she hit some stunning double-handed backhand winners but failed to maintain the intensity.
Petrova, world number 11, on the other hand whenever faltered, had a very strong game to bail out herself.
Sania had her first breakpoint -- earned through a beautiful service return winner -- in the third game of the first set but Petrova served well to save the game, which she completed by hitting an ace.
It was now Sania’s turn to face a breakpoint, which she offered by hitting a forehand long, and the Russian gleefully accepted that to go up 3-1.
Petrova consolidated the lead to 4-1 by holding her serve in the next game and the set went on serve from there in favour of the Russian.
Sania engaged her opponent in long rallies, showing that she had a plan to set up points, but lacked in execution.
Petrova was calm in the crunch situation and held her nerves to ward off the danger.
Again in the second set, it was Sania who had early chance to break Petrova when she had two breakpoints in the fourth game.
But the Russian raised her game by a few notches and served extremely well to deny the Indian any chance to make a comeback to the match.
Sania now will play in women’s doubles with American Vania King and in mixed doubles with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi.