Trying hard to hold back tears, an emotional Sania Mirza was at loss of words in explaining the defeat with partner Rohan Bopanna in the mixed doubles event of the Rio Olympic Games, here today.
The fourth seed Indian duo of Sania and Bopanna lost the bronze play-off to Czech pair of Lucie Hradecka and Radek Stepanek 1-6 5-7.
Sania, who is already 29 and has recoverd from three career-threarening injuries, knows that it was her last and best chance to win an Olympic medal.
“It’s tough and not easy to speak right now. We have to accept it and move on,” a teary-eyed Sania told reporters.
“I don’t know, it’s just hard. Olympics come in four years. I don’t know if I will be able to play tennis in four years again,” she said.
The defeat brought back memories of the loss of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi in a marathon men’s doubles bronze match in Athens 2004.
Sania said she needs to get over the grief and get ready for the Cincinnati event on the WTA Tour.
“As tennis players we are fortunate enough. We go to Cincinnati and we have another shot winning a tennis match. But unfortunately we were not able to produce our best today. That’s sport for you. It’s going to take some time to get over it. We have to get over losses and try to bounce back,” she said.
The duo put up some fight in the second set but fell short and Sania said: “We both didn’t do what we do best probably. We did have chances. The second set was fine. We could have won that multiple times but were not able to convert it.”
“There’s not a lot I can say to you at the moment, that’s life you have to move on.”
Bopanna said the early breaks in the first set had derailed their campaign.
“The early breaks let us down. I could not strike well in my service game, and it put us on our back foot straightway. Right now, it’s very hard to focus. In 24 hours we lost two close matches which could have easily gave us a medal. That’s how it goes. You put your best but it still falls short.
“I’m not thinking ahead. Four years is a long way to go. I just have to get through today,” Bopanna said.