Saturday, December 12, 2009

Interview : Sania mirza for olympics?

Courtesy : ESPN STAR

Mixed doubles has been added to the 2012 London Olympics tennis programme but Sania Mirza is not thinking about it as yet.
By Bhagya Ayyavoo
After clinching her first Major title at the 2009 Australian Open in mixed doubles, Sania Mirza reveals to MobileESPN that she’ll team up with former doubles No. 1 Virginia Ruano Pascual. The Spaniard has 11 Grand Slams to her name, including 10 in women’s doubles. Excerpts from an exclusive interview.

Bhagya Ayyavoo:
 How will you remember the 2009 season, professionally as well as personally?
Sania Mirza: For Indian tennis, it was an extremely good year. Mahesh and I won the Australian Open mixed doubles title while Leander won two Grand Slams in doubles. Yuki Bhambri won a junior Grand Slam and we also reached the World Group in Davis Cup after several years. Personally, I am happy with the way things have gone for me despite some injury issues. I won my maiden Grand Slam title and finished in the top 100 for the fifth consecutive year.

BA: Which was the most memorable and satisfying match that you played this season?
SM: Beating world No.12, Marion Bartoli in Osaka in singles and winning the final of the Australian Open in mixed were memorable for me.

BA: You bagged the Lexington Challenger title this year, that too coming right after your engagement. How important was that success?
SM: Every title is important in building one’s confidence level and since it came right after my engagement, it helped in putting a stop to baseless rumours that claimed I had lost focus on tennis.

BA: With so many teenagers emerging and many other top players coming out of retirements, what will your philosophy be on your seventh year on the tour?
SM: The philosophy has been the same all through my tennis career - to keep working hard and to go on improving.

BA: Given the gruelling nature of the tour, will you be selective with the tournaments you play in 2010?
SM: Yes, I may need to be selective.

BA: Fitness is obviously key to your game. Do your injuries or your propensity to get injured haunt you at the back of your mind when you play top-10 players?
SM: Injuries are part of a sportsperson’s life. If you are injured, it will affect your game irrespective of whether you are playing a top-10 player or a top-200 player.

BA: In spite of you not being in the Top 20 you’re always a feared opponent. Does it make it any tougher or easier for you on court?

SM: I don’t look at it that way. When I enter the court, I always think positively and believe I have a chance to win - whether I am playing a top-20 player or a rank outsider makes no difference.

BA: Some say, one can’t prepare to play a top-20 player until you’re in the Top 30. How true is that in your case?
SM: For me, ranking is just a number and I believe whoever plays well on that particular day will be the winner.

 Speaking of Grand Slams, what are the odds for you to repeat the 2005 US Open Round 4 performance?
SM: I am a positive person and I think I can do well in future as well.

 You reached your career-best 27 in 2007, and you have always been quoted as a top-30 player. Now, 58 on the WTA singles list, have you set yourself some target for next year?
SM: My goal is always to work hard and to go on improving. If I can stay injury-free, there is no reason why I cannot better my ranking.

BA: Former India No.1 Nirupama Vaidyanathan made a short comeback at the Pune ITF in November this year. Do you think that will help India, at a time when there’s no one to support you at the top?
SM: It’s a great achievement by Niru and I feel very happy for her. However, it is disappointing that no new players seem to have emerged in Indian women’s tennis for a long time now.

BA: What do you enjoy most and least about life on the Tour? And how do you think that will change post engagement?
SM: I enjoy playing tennis and that’s what keeps me going. The travel is tiresome.

BA: You had reasonable success in the doubles events with Francesca Schiavone and Chia Jung Chuang this season. What’s the plan for 2010?
SM: I will be playing with Virginia Ruano Pascual in the Australian Open and if we do well, we’ll continue to play together.

BA: With the 2012 Olympics fast approaching, do you have any London dreams, especially that’s a venue where you will have a lot of support?
SM: 2012 is still a long way off.

 Now that you’re engaged, are you happy that the link-up stories and other rumours have stopped? 

SM: Yes. But after a point, the stories had become so ridiculous that they had stopped affecting me.

 You certainly have many more years to go, but have you ever thought of life beyond that?

SM: I would like to remain associated with tennis after my retirement and want to give back to the game that has given me so much in life. Maybe, I would get into coaching.

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