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Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna give India hope in tennis at Olympics Games

India's Sania Mirza (L) and Rohan Bopanna react after winning a point against Britain's Heather Watson and Andy Murray during their mixed doubles quarter-final. Photograph: (AFP)

PTI Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Aug 13, 2016, 03.43 AM (IST)
India's Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna subdued Britain's Andy Murray and Heather Watson with remarkable ease to breeze into the mixed doubles semifinals of the Rio Olympic Games here.

The fourth seeded Indian pair dominated the quarterfinal contest, winning 6-4 6-4 in just 67 minutes.

One more victory will ensure India a silver medal and a defeat in the semifinals would give Sania and Bopanna a chance to fight for the bronze.

India has only one tennis medal in its entire Olympic history that came through Leander Paes, who won a singles bronze at 1996 Atlanta Games.

Murray came into the contest after winning his singles quarterfinal that lasted more than two hours and was a pale shadow of himself.

The world number two, winner of three Grand Slams and singles defending Olympic champion, seemed conserving his energy for the bigger battle ahead. His heavy legs and stifled movement on the court made the task easier for the Indians.

Watson did not look like a player who won the Wimbledon mixed double title this year, struggling badly with her serve and ground strokes in the opening set.

Sania and Bopanna were a better team than the Britons, who never posed a threat to the Indians. Bopanna was solid with his booming serve while Sania played superbly from the back of the court.

Bopanna began with a double fault and Sania's consecutive volley errors meant that Indians were first to blink.

However, the Indians immediately got the break back as Watosn dropped serve at love. A flurry of unforced errors by the Briton set Indians nicely with three chances and Bopanna found a backhand winner on the first break point.

Sania saved a breakpoint in the next and held to make it 2-2.

A nervous looking Watson struggled with her serve and was again down 0-40. The Indians seized the advantage. Murray failed to put across a strong forehand return from Sania, putting the Indians ahead 4-3.

Sania came out serving solid in the next set as India led 5-3. Bopanna served out the first set without fuss, hitting two aces.

The British players played better as a team in the second but the Indians were up for the task and broke Murray in the fifth for a 3-2 lead.
That lead stayed with the Indians and Bopanna sealed the issue on the third match point with an overhead smash.

Boxer Vikas Krishnan a step away from medal

Vikas Krishnan stood a win away from an elusive Olympic medal as the Indian outclassed Turkey's Sipal Onder 3-0 to comfortably advance to the quarterfinals of men's 75kg middleweight boxing at the Rio Games here.

The 24-year-old Indian started off with some counter punches in a fast-paced round one in Pavilion 6 at Riocentro, and he carried on the momentum throughout to emerge triumphant.

With 38 seconds to go the Turkish had to take a break to treat his bleeding eye, which reflected Vikas's complete domination of the first round.

The second round was no different as Sipal, a 29-year-old veteran who had a close win over Benny Muziyo of Zambia in his opener, took a defensive stance and tried to keep a distance to avoid Vikas' jabs.

The former Asian Games gold medallist, on the other hand, continued his steady progress and at the same time was cautious enough to thwart Sipal's counter punches.

In the pre-quarterfinals, Vikas seemed the more assured boxer and will face his stiffest challenge against Bektemir Melikuziev of Uzbekistan, who has also beaten the Indian in the final of the 2015 Asian Championships.

Melikuziev is the 2015 World Championship silver medallist and 2014 Youth Olympic Games champion.

The Uzbek, who was named 2015 Best Male Boxer by the Asian Boxing Confederation, defeated Daniel Lewis of Australia.

Vikas buried the ghosts of London 2012 where he was eliminated in the preliminary round, despite initially being declared the winner.

(PTI)
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