Sania gets ready for Aus Open challenge

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Sania returns after a long injury lay-off when she steps on to the Australian Open courts on Monday to lock horns with Marta Domachowska in the 1st round.

Updated: January 18, 2009 10:59 IST
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Sania Mirza returns to singles action after a long injury lay-off when she steps on to the Australian Open court on Monday to lock horns with Poland's 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 ace will once again be India's lone representative in the singles at the tennis Major as Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi will play the men's doubles with their respective partners.

After the forgettable injury-ridden 2008, which pushed her out of the top 100, Sania has had a decent, if not spectacular, start to the season.

The Indian ace had good opportunity to gauge her fitness and form while playing against top players at the World Team Challenge in Hong Kong.

The win against current world number 23 Agnes Szavay proved that she has not lost the sting.

But Sania, fitter than ever, cannot afford to drop the intensity as the competition will get tougher and tougher at every step.

Against Domachowska, ranked 61, Sania has 0-1 record. She had lost the one match they played way back in 2003.

If Sania manages to get past the Pole, she could run into 10th seed Russian Nadia Petorva, who would be up against Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan in her first round.

In the doubles, she will partner America's 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) Shyamlal Vallabhjee, who works with Mahesh Bhupathi, will be looking after my training during the Australian Open.

"Of course, my father, who has worked in tandem with most of the coaches I've played with, is a vital part of my support team."

In the men's doubles, old horses Paes and Bhupathi will once again be India's face though it has been some years that they have won a Grand Slam.

Paes and Martin Damm had won the US Open in 2006 while Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi had won the same competition way back in 2002.

Paes and Czech partner Lukas Dlouhy are seeded fourth while Bhupathi and Bahamian partner Mark Knowles are the third seeds.

Also in fray is Rohan Bopanna, who has teamed up with Finnish Jarko Nieminen.

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