At the end of a fruitful tennis year, the best in terms of results in her career, Sania Mirza cherishes most her consistent run with Martina Hingis, to stay at the top of the doubles' rankings after getting to the top in April. Sania won two Grand Slam titles and clinched the WTA Finals alongside Hingis.
“Reaching the top is one thing and staying there is another thing. So, finishing off the year as the World No.1 in women’s doubles (partnering) Martina Hingis [was] the biggest challenge. To cap it all, myself and Hingis being rated as the World No. 1 women’s doubles pair by the ITF is something which I will cherish for a long, long time to come,” Sania says in an exclusive interview recapping a golden year of achievements as she won 10 major titles including the Wimbledon and the U. S. Open Grand Slam titles and retaining the prestigious WTA Tour Doubles title in Singapore.
The decision to partner Hingis has given dividends, but she was reluctant to term it as one of the most defining decisions of her career. “I don’t look at it that way. See, if you remember, I was already moving closer to becoming World No. 1 before I decided to partner Hingis. It could have been delayed a bit. But, luckily me and Hingis started winning titles very quickly and settled down as a winning combination,” Sania explains. “Well, even for Hingis this has been the best year in the circuit along with me. What I can say is the chemistry with her is far more superior and wonderful than I had with others in the past. This I say with all respect to the earlier partners. With Hingis the biggest positive is we complement each other remarkably well on and off the court,” she reiterated.
As against laying down specific aims for the next year with Hingis, she focussed on the need to be at a collective best for results to arrive. “Well, it is going to be really tough to better the performances this year. But, yes, winning another Grand Slam title is on our agenda now. But, again, we (she and Hingis) don’t go out with the specific objective winning but in trying to give of our best. For once you do this, results will fall in place,” says Sania before leaving in a couple of days for the warm-up events ‘Down Under’ before the Australian Open Grand Slam next month.
“After a badly needed break, I am now looking for real match practice and we hope to get things going again. I just don’t want to be rusty before another demanding year begins on the circuit. Hopefully, Brisbane and Sydney events should help us realise this,” Sania pointed out.
What will be the biggest hurdle to repeat the performances of this year? “See, in 2014 I won five WTA titles and thought it was the best year for me then. But, look at this year how results were in place. I repeat it is tough to get better. But again, if we put in the kind of efforts we did this year, it should not be a surprise though we will take it match-by-match as we move on,” Sania explained. “Yes, I would be lying if we win the Australian Open and say that I was not looking at that kind of performance. Winning any Grand Slam title is always a special feeling,” she said.
Despite the roaring success in 2015, is there anything you missed out badly and felt disappointed? “The kind of travelling we do is too much and also means missing out those precious moments with your parents, family members. Miss important family weddings. But again, to be the No. 1 you should be ready to sacrifice these things,” says a smiling Sania.
On the 2016 Rio Olympics, Sania is not in the mood to engage herself in any debate about who will be her partners. “All, I would say is that I eagerly looking forward for that great event,” she remarked. “I will keep playing as long as my body permits and I keep enjoying,” says the champion tennis player to a query
Are there are any realistic goals you set for yourself? “I won’t say goals. But, yes, there will be a conscious effort to stay at the top and finish off another year as World No. 1,” signs off Sania before another training schedule with a talented Prarthana Thombare.