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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 January, 2005, 10:39 GMT
Indian woman makes tennis history
Sania Mirza
Mirza meets Serena Williams in the next round
Teenager Sania Mirza has become the first Indian woman to reach the third round of a Grand Slam tennis event.

The 18-year-old Mirza, who got a wild card entry into the Australian Open in Melbourne, beat Hungarian Petra Mandula 6-2, 6-1 in the second round.

Mirza, who is ranked 166, will now play women's favourite Serena Williams in the next round on Friday.

The only other Indian woman to win a match at a Grand Slam is Nirupama Vaidyanathan.

Vaidyanathan made it to the second round of the Australian Open in 1998.

Seven years later, Mirza needed just 50 minutes to beat Mandula, a former French Open quarterfinalist, to sail into the third round.

I'm really looking forward to finding out how hard she hits the ball
Sania Mirza on her upcoming match with Serena Williams
"I'm really excited. I was confident but I didn't think it was going to be that easy," Mirza said after her second round win.

"My aim was to win a round here. When I did that I was so relieved, there was no pressure."

'Too small'

Now Mirza, who is a former Wimbledon junior doubles champion, is keenly awaiting her contest with Serena Williams.

"I'm really looking forward to finding out how hard she hits the ball," said Mirza.

Williams admits that she has never heard of her young rival in the next round.

"I am pretty sure she's heard of me though and she'll be ready to play my game," she said of Mirza.

Mirza, who lives in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad known for producing a host of top Indian cricketers, turned professional two years ago.

She says she was considered too small when she went for her first tennis classes as a six-year-old girl.

"Then finally [the coach] called my parents up and said 'the way she hits the ball, I've never seen a six-year-old hit a ball like that'," Mirza told the Associated Press.


SEE ALSO
Aussie Open quotes of the day
17 Jan 05 |  Tennis



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