Inspirational Mirza keeps India's hopes alive

Updated: 2008-01-01 18:16

Perth -- Sania Mirza inspired India to a 2-1 victory over Australia at the Hopman Cup on Tuesday to keep alive their hopes of reaching the final and dent those of the hosts.

Mirza set the ball rolling with a 6-2 2-6 6-4 win over Alicia Molik and though Peter Luczak beat Rohan Bopanna 7-6 6-3 to level the match, the Indians joined forces to win the mixed doubles 6-2 4-6 13-11, in the match tiebreak.

The United States head Group B with two wins out of two, but both India and Australia can still qualify for Friday's final.

India must beat the Czech Republic and Australia need to defeat the US, results which would leave all three teams on two wins out of three, with the group winner then decided on rubbers won.

World number 31 Mirza came out firing on all cylinders, smashing winners on both sides to take the opening set in 30 minutes.

Molik picked up her game, especially her serve, in the second set and as Mirza's level dipped, the Australian levelled the match.

Mirza then stormed to a 5-1 lead in the decider, only to falter as Molik saved three match points in the seventh game before hitting back to 5-4.

But the Indian held her nerve to serve out at the second time of asking for victory.

"I was 5-1 and then she started playing really well," Mirza told reporters.

"But on her serve, she can come up with big serves any time. She stopped missing the ball and I made some stupid mistakes. But I am glad to win."

World number 79 Luczak snatched a tight opening set against Bopanna, winning the tiebreak 7-2.

Bopanna, the world number 267, was then broken in the sixth game of the second set as Luczak levelled the contest at 1-1.

The momentum was with Australia but India looked on course for a simple doubles win when they led 6-2 4-2.

Australia hit back superbly to take the second set and both sides had match points in the deciding match tiebreak, but India snatched it 13-11.

The win also helped them maintain their unbeaten mixed record in Hopman Cup with their fifth win out of five.

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