NEW DELHI // Sania Mirza, India's most popular sportswoman, failed to win Commonwealth Games tennis gold for a fanatical home crowd yesterday as Australia's Anastasia Rodionova spoiled the party with a 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 victory.
The top seed kept her composure in the face of fervent support for Mirza, with fans frequently asked to be quiet throughout the contest.
"Unfortunately I fell a bit short," Mirza said. "It's an honour for me to be playing for my country." Mirza's every winning point was followed with a deafening roar. Even when she was trailing, support from the Indian fans did not waver. The noisy behaviour came after Games organisers said they were monitoring the crowds at all events and asking volunteers to ensure silence at critical points. "We have faced a lot of criticism due to partisan crowds. Something which has always been the case in a cricket match," Karan, a security volunteer at the RK Khanna Tennis Stadium said.
"We are trying our best to ensure there is no space for rowdies and those who spoil this sport." Fans of all ages had packed the venue as the twilight faded. Undeterred by volunteers and policing staff, children carrying Indian flags moved around seats across the stadium, frequently bumping into a sizeable posse of Australian fans. Rodionova denied the result the home fans craved when she claimed the third set tie-break 7-3.
In other Games action, Valerie Adams, New Zealand's Olympic champion, comfortably won the shot put gold medal as she broke her own Commonwealth Games record with her first attempt. Adams set a winning distance of 20.47 metres and broke the 20-metre barrier with all six of her throws. Kenyans swept the medals in the women's steeplechase, with Milcah Chemos Cheywa winning in 9 mins 40.96secs ahead of Mercy Njoroge and Gladys Kipkemoi.
Fellow Kenyan Mark Kiprotich Muttai won the men's 400m from Sean Wroe of Australia and the Bahamas' Ramon Miller. Australia's Fabrice Lapierre won the men's long jump with a leap of 8.30m, while Donald Thomas won the high jump from fellow Bahamian Trevor Barry and Botswana's Kabelo Kgosiemang.