Indian tennis player Sania Mirza and her American doubles partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands crashed out in the first round of the women's doubles competition in the ongoing Abu Dhabi Open 2023 WTA 500 event on Monday. The duo suffered a loss to Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens and Laura Siegemund by a margin of 3-6, 4-6. Mirza is now one step closer to retirement from the sport. The six-time Grand Slam winner announced earlier that she would retire from professional tennis after Dubai Tennis Championships starting from February 27 onwards.
Sania suffers defeat in Abu Dhabi
Mirza-Sands were dealt an early blow in the hard courts of Zayed Sports City International Tennis Centre as they lost serve in the second game of the opening set. But they managed to struck back to back and broke their opponent's serve in the very next game.
The European team was in the lead after breaking Sania and Sands in the sixth game and won the opening set.
The second set was a bitter fight for supremacy and both teams went toe to toe, trading three break points each. Two teams were level at 4-4 but Sania and Sands dropped their serve in a highly important ninth game and in the 10th game, the Belgians held their nerves to clinch after just over an hour.
Earlier, Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna came second to Luisa Stefani and Rafael Matos of Brazil in the Australian Open mixed doubles final on Friday at Melbourne Park as the Brazillian pair clinched their maiden Grand Slam.
Sania Mirza was competing in her final Grand Slam with Rohan Bopanna where the duo were defeated 7(7)-6(2), 6-2 by Luisa Stefani and Rafael Matos.
Sania Mirza won two Grand Slam tournaments at the Australian Open. She won the Australian Open women's doubles title with Martina Hingis in 2016 and the Australian Open mixed doubles title with Mahesh Bhupathi in 2009.
The 2017 French Open mixed doubles championship, Rohan Bopanna won with Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada remains his solitary Grand Slam triumph.
The Indian team has defeated the defending Wimbledon winners Desirae Krawczyk and Neal Skupski in three sets in the Australian Open 2023 semifinals.
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Sania’s last speech at Australian Open
"My professional career started in Melbourne. I couldn't think of a better arena to finish my [Grand Slam] career at," stated an emotional Sania Mirza in the post-match interview.
The WTA Doubles World No. 1 for 91 weeks, Mirza, comes in second place at the last Grand Slam competition of her career. Mirza said earlier this month that the WTA 1000 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in February will mark the conclusion of her professional tennis career.