Sania Mirza returns to singles action after a long injury lay-off when she steps on to the Australian Open courts on Monday to lock horns with Polands Marta Domachowska in the first round.
The injured wrist holding up nicely so far,the Indian goes into the first Grand Slam of the year full of confidence having registered victory against a top-25 player,though in an exhibition event. Sania will once again be Indias lone representative in the singles as Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi will play the mens doubles with their respective partners.
After a forgettable 2008,Sania has had a decent start to the season. The win against current world number 23 Agnes Szavay at the world team challenge in Hong Kong proved that she has not lost the sting.
But Sania,fitter than ever,cannot afford a drop in intensity. Against Domachowska,ranked 61,Sania has a 0-1 record. If she manages to get past the Pole,she could run into 10th seed Russian Nadia Petrova,who would be up against Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan in her first round.
In the doubles,Sania will partner Americas Vania King and will team up with compatriot Bhupathi in mixed doubles. Talking about his support staff,the Indian ace said,Sven Groeneveld will continue to work with me during the Grand Slams and important tournaments and fitness trainer Shyamal Vallabhjee,who works with Mahesh Bhupathi,will be looking after my training during the Australian Open.
In the mens doubles,Paes and Bhupathi will once again be Indias faces. Paes and Czech partner Lukas Dlouhy are seeded fourth while Bhupathi and Bahamian partner Mark Knowles are the third seeds. Also in the fray is Rohan Bopanna,who has teamed up with Jarkko Nieminen of Finland.