Sania Mirza said that while confining herself to playing in doubles was good for her body physically it was, at the same time, a mentally draining affair.
“I am playing in one format which is a lot easy on my body, but mentally it’s tough. Peaking for 25 weeks a year is not easy,” said world No 1 in doubles after she was conferred with the honorary life membership of the Cricket Club of India.
Sania, who had won the US Open doubles crown with Swiss partner Martina Hingis after grabbing the Wimbledon title for back-to-back Grand Slam women’s doubles titles, explained how difficult it was to keep playing non-stop on the pro circuit.
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“The main thing is to peak for the (Grand) Slams, but it’s very tough and one of the hardest things to do mentally. But tennis players are used to it. I have already played 60 matches this year, close to 50 of those with Martina – which are a lot of matches.”
The Hyderabad-based player said while chemistry between partners off the field was not essential, it helps during a difficult period in matches on court.
“We don’t have to be best of friends. But at Wimbledon when we were 5-2 down in the third set, during the break (between games) it was chemistry that helped us pull through. We have to trust each other’s ability on court,” she added.
She was referring to the 5-7, 7-6, 7-5 win she and Martina achieved over Russian rivals Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in the women’s doubles summit clash.
“Martina loves India. India has been good for her,” she added referring to the Swiss player’s partnership in women’s doubles as well as mixed doubles with another Indian ace – Leander Paes.
Asked about the remainder of the season, Sania said on paper it would be considered a failure if she and Martina do not clinch the two tournaments they are taking part in – the Guangzhou International Women’s Open, starting Monday in China, and the WTA year-end finals at Singapore from October 25 in which they are the defending champions.
“I leave for China in five hours. Two weeks there, two weeks off, then Singapore and then I am done with it (this season). We have been playing well but that does not mean we will win everything,” Sania said.
“We are the no. 1 team, I am (ranked) no. 1 and she is No 2 individually, so anything less than a title is a failure for us on paper. But it’s impossible for anyone to win every tournament they play.
“No matter who you are, you are always going to lose one or two matches. But yeah, we try and enter every tournament to win and that’s what we are going to do,” she added.
Asked whether she expected to be the world No 1 when she started her career, Sania said,”Who would not want to be no. 1? You keep changing your goals in life. You chase dreams. Some dreams you achieve, some dreams you don’t.
“I played singles for eight years. I had some injuries and underwent three surgeries. My body gave up, but larger things (like doubles play) opened up,” she added.
The Hyderabadi also said that while it was disappointing to see India losing to Czech Republic in the Davis Cup World Group play off tie in Delhi, the opposition was formidable.
“It was always going to be tough against the Czech team. Yes, it was disappointing to see Rohan (Bopaanna) and Lee (Leander Paes) lose in the doubles but anyone can have an off day in office. It’s time to move on,” she said.
Thanking CCI for conferring honorary lifetime membership, Saina pointed out her connection to the game of cricket.
“My husband (Shoaib Malik of Pakistan) is a cricketer, Everyone in my family has played cricket. Cricket is in my blood. My dad used to play cricket and one of my uncles had played Ranji Trophy. I have played some tournaments here at the CCI before,” said the grand-niece of former India captain and off spinner, the late Ghulam Ahmed.