MELBOURNE, Jan 17 (PTI): India�s campaign in both men�s and women�s singles event in the Australian Open ended on a sour note with Somdev Devvarman and Sania Mirza going down fighting in their respective first round matches here today.
While, Somdev went down fighting to Tommy Robredo of Spain in straight sets 6-7(4) 3-6 4-6, Sania managed to bag a set before losing 7-5 3-6 1-6 to former World No 1 and winner of seven Grand Slams Justine Henin-Hardenneof Belgium.
Somdev, who was handed a wildcard after his impressive performance last year, posed some threat to the world no 52 Robredo, who was once ranked as high as number 5, but eventually failed to sustain in a contest that lasted two hours and 37 minutes.
On the other hand, the 24-year-old Sania, who booked a berth in the women�s singles main draw of the Australian Open only after going through a tough qualifying route, gave Henin a run for her money.
Henin had to draw all her trademark fighting spirit to avoid a disastrous first-round departure from the mega-event.
Sania, during her seventh straight Australian Open appearance, came up with some winners and looked almost set to cause an upset.
Having won the first set that lasted an hour, Sania raised hopes of an improbable Indian win but she failed to make any impact in the remaining two sets, allowing 11th-seeded Belgian to come back right into the game and finally steal the match in a little over two hours.
Sania, though hardly had any real chance of registering a win in the first round, after being drawn against a tough opponent in Henin, who on her part is also making a comeback after missing the US Open because to an elbow injury suffered at the Wimbledon last year.
Sania, who once reached as high as 27th in WTA rankings, has slipped to 145 because to a recurring wrist injury last season.
Sania�s best singles performance at the Australian Open has been third round appearances in 2005 and 2008. She had won the mixed doubles title with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi in 2009, which is her only Grand Slam title.
Earlier, the gutsy 25-year-old Somdev, who was making his debut in the Australian Open, tested Robredo in the first set, but the Spaniard then brought all his experience to fore to ultimately prevail with a 7-6 win.
Robredo, however, did not have much difficulty in the next two sets.
Somdev could not break his first round jinx this year as he had lost in the opening round of the Aircel Chennai Open also.