Melbourne : Ace Indian tennis players Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna sailed into the mixed doubles quarterfinals of the Australian Open here on Monday.
The Indian pair defeated Japan’s Makoto Ninomiya and Uruguay’s Ariel Behar 6-4, 7-6(11-9) in their second-round match to set up a quarterfinal clash with Latvian-Spanish duo Jelena Ostapenko and David Vega Hernandez.
Sania and Bopanna, the Rio Olympic semifinalists, had earlier beaten Australia’s Jaimee Fourlis and Luke Saville in the first round. The Indian pair drew first blood and broke the Uruguay-Latvian pair in the third game but the Ninomiya-Behar responded immediately to level the score.
But the Indians then make it 4-3 and quickly raced to a set lead. Both the pairs went toe-to-toe in the second as the hard-fought set ended with the Indian pair triumphing 11-9 in the tie-breaker, keeping the Indian challenge alive at the year’s first Grand Slam.
Sania is playing her last Grand Slam as the six-time Grand Slam champion earlier this month announced that she will retire from professional tennis at Dubai Tennis Championships, a WTA 1000 event, which begins on February 19.
In the women’s doubles, Sania and her Kazakh partner Anna Danilina ended their Australian Open campaign after suffering a loss at the hands of the Ukrainian-Belgian duo of Alison Van Uytvanck and Anhelina Kalinina in the second-round on Sunday.
In the men’s doubles, Bopanna and his Australian partner Matthew Ebden too crashed out of the tournament on Friday after their first round loss.
Another India pair, N Sriram Balaji and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, who entered the Australian Open as an alternate pair, also bowed out after suffering a 4-6, 4-6 loss against Frenchmen Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin in the second round, ending India’s challenge in men’s doubles on Sunday.