In Focus | Dubai Tennis Championships

Doubles finalists bond at the movies

Mirza, Mattek-Sands take in Bollywood flick after semi-final triumph

  • By Alaric Gomes, Senior Reporter
  • Published: 18:52 February 22, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • Bethanie Mattek-Sands(Grey)(USA), and Sania Mirza(Yellow)(IND) celebrating after winning the semi-final from Cara Black(ZIM) and Anastasia Rodionova(AUS), during the double's semi-finals, during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships at Aviation Club, Dubai.

Dubai: The Indian-American pairing of Sania Mirza and Bethanie Mattek-Sands booked their place in the doubles final and then rushed off to catch Bollywood movie Kai Po Che in a nearby cinema.

Mirza and Mattek-Sands played some entertaining tennis to register a 6-2, 7-5 win over Cara Black and Anastasia Rodionova on Friday afternoon. They will meet the winners of the second semi-final between second seeded Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik and fourth seeds Nuria Llagostera Vives and Jie Zheng.

“We will definitely go watch Kai Po Che. The movie has got some good reviews,” Mirza told media before rushing off with Mattek-Sands and her husband-cum-coach Justin Sands.

Mattek-Sands added: “I’ve never been to a Hindi movie, but I am told there will be subtitles, so that will be fine with me.”

On court, it was business as usual as the pair broke on Black’s serve before Mattek-Sands held for a 4-1 lead in the first set. Zimbabwean Black — a three-time doubles winner in Dubai with Liezel Huber (2007, 2008 and 2009) — was broken one more time as Mirza and Mattek-Sands wrapped up the opening set 6-2 in just 31 minutes.

The second set was closer, with Black and Rodionova attacking from the start to break Mattek-Sands. But the Indo-American pair — who will on Saturday be playing their second final from only four tournaments together this year — dug deep and broke back to draw level 2-2.

The set remained on serve until Mirza and Mattek-Sands registered one more break to win set and match in an hour and 21 minutes.

Mirza was also in last year’s final here, when she was seeded second with Elena Vesnina, only to lose to the top-seeded pair of Huber and Lisa Raymond.

“I think we are getting better as a pair. We are working hard on certain things and hopefully we will keep on improving,” Mirza said.

Mattek-Sands added: “I think the secret for us is that we plan a strategy and then go on court and implement it. Our games are meshing up well and we don’t have to force things. Between us we know who has to do what.”

Fully aware that Black can be dangerous at the net, Mattek-Sands was given the missive to be aggressive at the front of the court as Mirza sent down the returns. “I think this worked pretty well today and I think I did quite a lot of work at the net,” the American said.

Of the four tournaments in which they have competed together this season, they have had first round exits at the Australian Open and last week’s Qatar Open, while making the finals here and at the Brisbane International last month.

“This year the goal has been to win as many tournaments as possible. The good thing here is that we have improved with each round. So I think we are peaking right in time for the final,” Mirza said.

Gulf News