Tokyo Olympics: Sania Mirza/Ankita Raina crash out in the first round
After a nightmarish turn of events, Sania Mirza/Ankita Raina are sent packing home after losing a three-set affair to the Kichenok twins from Ukraine.
Indian tennis stars Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina crashed out after suffering a shocking and unfortunate loss at the hands of Ukraine's Nadiia and Lyudmyla Kichenok in the first round of the women's doubles event at 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
6-0, 6-7, 8-10 was the scoreline at the end of the match which spanned for 1 hour 33 minutes. Raina debuted at the Olympics while it was Sania's fourth appearance at the quadrennial event.
The name Sania Mirza needs no introduction. The most decorated female tennis player of our country - Mirza has won 3 out of 4 Grand Slam finals in Women's Doubles and 3 out of 7 in Mixed Doubles finals she featured in and has 43 career titles to her name, overall.
Playing her 4th Olympics, Sania Mirza was very well versed with the pressure and expectations of being an Olympian. Interestingly, on her comeback to International tennis after her maternity leave, Sania won her 42nd career title in Women's doubles partnering with one of the Kichenok twins - Nadiia Kichenok.
Ahmedabad's Ankita Raina, on the other hand was playing in her inaugural Olympics. Having had a mixed last two years but a strong grass season as a doubles player, she was confident going into the Olympics and it showed in her form today, early in match, before it all came unwinding.
Indians couldn't have dreamt for a better start when they served a bagel in the opening set of the 1st round match. 11 unforced errors by the Kichenok sisters proved to be fatal for them as the Indians capitalized on that.
Sania once again showed her class and reminded everyone of why she's the greatest women's tennis player of India. Her experience and composure rubbed off on the Olympic debutant Ankita as the Indians dominated the proceedings from the get go. However, this was short-lived.
The second set was a see-saw of a contest with both the teams breaking each other. The second serve percentage was 90% in comparison to 73% by the Ukrainians. Double faults too didn't help the cause of the sisters.
It went to the tie-breaker where the Kichenok sisters returned the favour of the 1st set bagel served to them, by serving a bagel to the Indians in the 2nd set tie-breaker.
The third set was decided via a points system based on which the team to reach 10 points first, would win. The Indians couldn't capitalise on the crunch moments in the game and eventually bowed out with a 8-10 loss in the 3rd set.
Now, come to imagine, the Indians were on course to win the match in straight sets when they were leading 5-2. You've got to say that this was lost by India rather than a win by Ukraine.
Will this be the last Olympic appearance for Sania Mirza? Where does she go from here and most importantly, will she be around for adding another International trophy to an already illustrious career?