‘A great feeling to win a WTA title’

Sania Mirza…“I still think I have a realistic chance of being World No. 1 in doubles. I am very close to that right now. Before I stop playing, I think I can achieve this.”-NAGARA GOPAL

“It has been a good year so far, having entered a couple of finals including the mixed doubles final at the Australian Open. More importantly, I am ranked World No. 3 in doubles. I am trying to do as well as possible,” says Sania Mirza. By V. V. Subrahmanyam.

Sania Mirza is upbeat after winning the women’s doubles title at the WTA Portugal Open recently. The 27-year-old player from Hyderabad and her partner, the 10-time Grand Slam winner Cara Black of Zimbabwe, defeated Eva Hrdinova (Czech Republic) and Valeria Solovyeva (Russia) 6-4, 6-3 in the final.

“Well, it is always a great feeling to win a WTA title. And this is in a way special, for it is my 20th title overall in the circuit,” says a visibly elated Sania.

For the record, Sania and Cara were playing their third final of the season, having finished runner-up at Indian Wells and Stuttgart earlier. The duo has won three titles from five finals.

“It has been a good year so far, having entered a couple of finals including the mixed doubles final at the Australian Open. More importantly, I am ranked World No. 3 in doubles. I am trying to do as well as possible,” says Sania in a chat with Sportstar.

“Cara Black will be my partner. It was a bit unfortunate that in Sydney early this year, she had a niggling injury. But she is fit now and so am I. Wish to come up with real good performances.

“When I look back, it’s good that Cara Black and I lost early in the Australian Open. It gave time for her to recover,” she says.

“We will be playing in the French Open together,” Sania adds.

Talking of her future in doubles, she says: “Definitely, you have to keep changing your goals as the days pass by. I still think I have a realistic chance of being World No. 1 in doubles. I am very close to that right now. Before I stop playing, I think I can achieve this.” On the changes in the game ever since she won her first WTA singles title in 2005, the winner of two majors says: “It is really huge — the standard of the game in the last six to seven years. It is more of physical strength now. Longer rallies are the order of the day. Need to be able to sustain your fitness levels. I don’t think tennis has ever been so demanding physically as it has been of late.”

Answering a query on her fitness, Sania says: “I feel pretty good in terms of physical fitness. Some odd niggles will be there, but nothing major.”

She goes on: “I can’t say how my career will be after a few more years. I want to take it year by year. As you all know, there was a phase when I thought it was all over because of the wrist injuries in 2010 and the number of surgeries I had to undergo.

“But I came back well to enter a Grand Slam final and win a Grand Slam title too later on. Results which made me believe that it was not all over.”

Sania is perturbed over some media reports suggesting that all is not well with her marriage with Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Malik.

“Life is hectic and very demanding for both of us since we are professional sportspersons. This, we were pretty well aware of before we got married. Definitely, this is not the way you like it to be — being away from each other. But there are very few options when our focus is on our respective sporting careers,” explains Sania.

“Definitely, there are times when we do feel why we should go through these testing times. But we are aware of the goals ahead since we believe that there is a lot left in us to be in sport.

“Ours is a special relationship and let me tell you we never discuss the media reports on our marriage.

“Let me remind you, we did not get married for the sake of fans. Our relationship continues to be special. Definitely, it hurts when the media intrudes our privacy. But again, we can’t go around and keep answering every one around,” she adds.