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April - May 2005


India Sport Scene

Tennis

by Ramesh Seedhar


Sania Mirza Awarded
The KK Birla Foundation has announced a cash award of aRs. 2 lakhs for tennis sensation Sania Mirza, reports our correspondent. KK Brila, president of the Foundation and the former president of the All India Tennis Association, announced this in recognition of her outstanding performance at the WTA Open which ended in Hyderabad. Sania became the first Indian woman to claim a WTA Title after she defeated Ukranian Alyona Bondarenko 6-4,5-7,6-3 in the final of the tournament.

Sania Mirza – Role Model for Indian Women Tennis
Sania Mirza is the new beacon for Indian tennis, more so after her third round entry at the Australian Open, her outright win by winning the Hyderabad Open, her first WTA title, followed by her success at the Dubai Open.

In India where every sport takes a back seat compared to cricket, the country has suddenly found a person and a sport to cheer about as Sania Mirza’s achievement have caught the imagination of the Indian people. The whole nation is writing or talking about her.

When Sania Mirza powered her way into the third round of the Australian Open and finally went down to Serena Williams, the eventual winner, her performance caught the fancy of the cricket crazy India for now the nation suddenly had a new star

At the Australian Open Sania Mirza made full use of her wild card to win two matches and in her third round encounter played on par against Serena Williams in the second set. Understandably Sania Mirza started a bit slow on the Vodafone arena but once she got used to the surroundings she delighted everybody with her display. Finally Serena Williams’s service and experience were a decisive factor in clinching the match for Serena Williams. It has been a long time coming for the last time an Indian played a singles match in a grand slam event on a show court was nine years ago when Leander Paes lost to Andre Agassi in 1996 US Open Championships.

This was followed by Sania Mirza’s sensational showing at the Hyderabad Open where she won the WTA title and proved that she is no fluke. Her achievement has come in for fulsome praise from not just the average fan but also from all those Indians who have played tennis at the highest level.
Mahesh Bhupati felt that he was not off the mark when he said that the girl had it in her to make it to the top 50. I think it is her self belief which makes her so special, she just does not choke even when the chips are down

Former National Champion and Indian Davis Cup player Gaurav Natekar said that Sania Mirza’s attitude is worth admiring. I have not seen any Indian girl come out with such big shots. I guess she is on song even when her opponent is putting pressure on her.

Akhtar Ali. who has been associated with Indian tennis for decades swears that he has not seen any Indian girl smack the ball so hard in 50 years. Sania Mirza has the ability to churn out pace and hit heavy balls.

Normally in the past Indian players both men or women have crumbled in tight situations. Sania is very different and if she comes out as arrogant, and shows it on the court it is but natural for this is what the modern tennis is all about.

It has been seven years since an Indian made it into a final since Leander Paes won the title in Newport. Since then not a single man or women in Indian tennis had come anywhere near that stage until Sania arrived. She has certainly proved that she belongs to the big league for each win in the recent the tournaments have come against tough opposition and those who were ranked higher than her.

At 18 when most Indians are still trying to find a way to do well in Grand Slam junior events, Sania Mirza is proving that she belongs to the senior league. She is not just immensely talented, but has the guts and drive to keep going even in tight situations.

Sania Mirza has set herself a modest goal of entering the top 50 on the WTA circuit before the end of this year. After her win in Hyderabad she is currently ranked 98. Sania Mirza said that I know it is a tough goal but this is something I have to achieve

Sania Mirza told the press before the start of the Dubai Open that getting past the first round is the immediate worry as there are lot of top players from the WTA tour that are over here to participate at the Dubai Open. I really do not have big goals for this tournament. I am not even expecting anything she added.

Sania Mirza is one of the three wild cards at the Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open. The others being Tunisian Selima Sfar and Conchita Martinez

Fame and fortune comes at a price and some times it can be very demanding on more simple things like family life,

Imran Mirza, the father of the teenager tennis sensation Sania Mirza knows exactly what it means to house a celebrity. It has been tough for the family There are so many invitations and felicitations that it has been difficult to say no the people disclosed Imran Mirza. When Sania was playing in Australia, Imran Mirza and his wife were at Haj in Saudi Arabia. During that time the youngest daughter Anam was alone at home and had to handle the media. Since Sania Mirza returned from Australia life has become too hectic .

Sania Mirza said that now she has too look at things in a completely new way. It is a new experience but worth going through Sania explained. The pressure has always been there. I have never played a match without having the pressure to do well but now it is much more since I am playing at a higher level she added.

With new things coming her way she has done pretty well with the demands put upon her and showed that what can be achieved by guts determination and hard work. Sania Mirza has become a role model for all youngsters in India aspiring to do well at Tennis.

The full version of this article is available in the print edition.

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