Thursday, May 24, 2007

Spanish coach for Sania

New Delhi: Sania Mirza has roped in reputed Spanish coach Gabriel Urpi to help in her campaign at the French Open starting on Sunday.

This is a temporary arrangement as Sania will be guided by Urpi only during the Grand Slam fortnight. Urpi, a former ATP Tour player, has worked with Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and is currently tied up with Flavia Pannetta and Virginia Ruano Pascual.

The last time Sania sought guidance from a renowned coach was from the legendary Tony Roche before the start of 2006 season.

Meanwhile, the Indian fans will have to wait for a while to see Sania pair up with Mahesh Bhupathi on the Grand Slam stage. The combined doubles ranking of the two players — Sania is currently ranked 37th and Bhupathi 23rd — is unlikely to get them into the main draw of the mixed doubles for which the cut-off is expected to be around 56.

“But they definitely hope to play together in Wimbledon,” Sania’s father Imran said.

In the doubles at Roland Garros, Sania will partner Eva Birnerova of Russia.

Eva will be the 20-year-old Indian’s third partner in as many tournaments since she returned to the courts after a two-and-half-month-long lay-off following a knee injury.

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