Sania, Dodig reach Australian Open final

Sania Mirza and her Croatian partner Ivan Dodig reached the Australian Open final with a tight victory over Samantha Stosur and Sam Groth on Friday.

Sania Mirza (left) celebrates with Ivan Dodig of Croatia after winning their mixed doubles' semifinal.   -  AP

Sania Mirza put herself in contention for a seventh Grand Slam title as she breezed into the Australian Open mixed doubles final with Ivan Dodig, beating local favourites Samantha Stosur and Sam Groth here on Friday.

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The second-seeded Indian-Croatian pair won 6-4, 2-6, 10-5 in the semifinal that lasted an hour and 18 minutes.

Sania has won three mixed doubles titles, the last being the 2014 US Open with Brazilian Bruno Soares. With Dodig, she had an opportunity to win last year when she reached the French Open final but lost to compatriot Leander Paes and her then doubles partner Martina Hingis in the summit clash.

Close battle

The opening set featured a lot of breaks and the only one not to concede a break of serve was Sania. However, in the second set, the Indian lost her serve twice - fourth and ninth games - and it all boiled down to the match tie-breaker. It was 3-3 in the tie-break but the second seeds pulled away after that, taking five points in a row. The Australians - especially Groth - were struggling with his first serve and they paid a huge price for that.

Groth lost both the points on his serve on the eighth and ninth points, while Dodig curtailed unforced errors in the nick of time. Sania sent a lob out on the first match point but converted the second when Dodig hit a superb volley to the left of Stosur.

Sania and Dodig next face the winners of the other semifinal between Elina Svitolina and Chris Guccione and the pair of Abigail Spears and Juan Sebastian Cabal. Sania is the lone Indian surviving in the first Grand Slam of the season with Rohan Bopanna, Leander Paes, Purav Raja, Divij Sharan and juniors Zeel Desai and Siddhant Banthia all having made early exits.

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