ZIMBABWE’s tennis star Cara Black and doubles partner Sania Mirza from India advanced to the second round of the Australian Open Tennis tournament with a comfortable straight set victory in the opening round at Melbourne Park yesterday.
BY SPORTS REPORTER
Undeterred by the sweltering heat which saw temperatures reaching 43 degrees, the sixth seeded Indo-Zimbabwean pair defeated the Australian team of Arina Rodionova and Tammi Patterson 6-1, 6-4.
The more experienced pair of Black and Mirza took control of the match right from the start until the end, to wrap up the match in just one hour and seven minutes
The sixth seeds converted five of their eight break point chances against Rodionova and Patterson’s two while also winning a total of 61 points during the match while the wild card Australian pair won just 43 points.
Rodionova and Patterson, who were backed by a partisan crowd, also made four unforced errors against just one by Black and Mirza.
Black and Mirza will be confident of going all the way to the final in Australia after a strong last year which saw them ending the 2013 season by winning back-to-back World Tennis Association (WTA) titles in Japan and China.
Yesterday’s victory should have come as a huge confidence booster for Black and Mirza after they began the year with a shock first round defeat at the WTA Apia International last week.
Black and Mirza will now face the pair of Monica Niculescu from Romania and the Czech Republic’s Klara Zakopalova in the second round.
The unseeded pair of Niculescu and Zakopalova were equally impressive in their 6-3, 6-2 win over the Romanian pair of Irina-Camelia Begu and Sorana Cirstea.
Black, who is making her 14th appearance at the Australian Open, will also partner Briton, Jamie Murray in the mixed doubles competition.
The reigning Zimbabwean Sportsperson of the Year and Murray will face a tough opening round match against the fifth seeded pair of Bruno Soares from Brazil and Spain’s Medina Garrigues.