Sania crashes out but just happy to be back

MELBOURNE: Indian icon Sania Mirza crashed out of the Australian Open Wednesday but said she was just happy to be back after a painful six months on the sidelines.

Her 6-3, 6-2 loss to Russian 10th seed Nadia Petrova was only her second match back and even winning once here was good enough for Sania Mirza, who shoulders the hopes and expectations of a sports-mad nation.

But the 22-year-old vowed to bounce back as she works to once again to match her career-high of 27 after recovering from a serious wrist injury.

On her game against Petrova, she conceded she was simply outclassed by a better player.

Sania is a idol to many young women in India but controversy has never been far away.

In the first four years of her career, she found herself in trouble time and again.

A fatwa was once issued against her by extremists angry over the short skirts she wears on court.

Then her decision to play doubles with Israel''s Shahar Peer in 2007 was met with more furious protests from religious fanatics who believed a Muslim should not partner a Jew.

She was then photographed with her feet resting on a table near the Indian flag following a Hopman Cup match in Australia.

A complaint was filed in an Indian court demanding action be taken under laws preventing insults to national honour, but Sania Mirza strenuously denied she meant any offence.

Sania suffered the injury to her right wrist in March and had surgery in April. She returned in time for Wimbledon but pulled out of the Beijing Olympics in tears, unable to swing a racquet.

She credits her recovery to Korean specialist treatment recommended by her
friend, Indian Test cricketer Yuvraj Singh.