Having won one-fourth of her career doubles titles this year alone and broken into the doubles top 10,one would have excused Sania Mirza if she would have treated herself to a leisurely off season. Instead,the tennis ace has been at a boot camp at her hometown Hyderabad where she was joined by partner Cara Black,gearing up for what seems to be grueling 12 months ahead.
Mirza and Black won back-to-back titles in Tokyo and Beijing to finish the season emphatically.
Come 2014,Mirza says she hopes to continue to stay fit and do well in the Slams and premier tournaments. Her career has been plagued by injuries,forcing her to make several adjustments to her game,including giving up singles. I was fortunate that this year I stayed away from injuries, says the world No. 9 doubles player.
She began the year strongly with titles at Brisbane and Dubai with her ‘best friend on tour and off it’ Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Later,she paired up with China’s Zheng Jie to win her third title of the year at New Haven before winning two more tournaments with Black. Her best performance at the Slams was at the US Open,where she lost in the semifinals alongside Black. She hopes the Zimbabwean’s experience at the Grand Slams will help her cross the hurdle.
Mirza will continue to pair up with Black in doubles and will partner Romania’s Horia Tecau in the Australian Open mixed doubles. Cara is one of the great doubles players and her skills at the net are a perfect complement to my ground-strokes from the baseline, she says. More than that,she is very experienced. She has done it all,has been world number one and has won Grand Slams,so I learn a lot from her as well.
It will be a prolonged season for 27-year-old,considering that the Asian Games will be held towards the end of 2014. Mirza says she will considering playing singles at the continental event ‘if asked to’ but quickly added that the possibility of that happening is very unlikely. But that is a long time away. As tennis players we play 25 weeks a year,we have to worry about four Grand Slams much before we worry about everything else, she says. I have always said I am always on national duty and whenever or whoever needs me to play with I have played in the past and I will play in the future as well.
Paes no show
The who’s who of Indian tennis turned up at the Indian Tennis Players Association (ITPA) organised fund-raising tournament. However,the absence of Leander Paes,who organisers said had prior commitments, that raised a few eyebrows. Paes,IPTA’s vice president,won’t be a part of the exhibition matches where every other top player from the country is participating,instead choosing to conduct a separate coaching clinic for children. Meanwhile,Bhupathi said: We are going to get the Indian players a physiotherapist and fitness trainer to travel with them. We will also have more events like this to raise funds to support the players and juniors.