Women’s tennis icon Maria Sharapova on Sunday said Sania Mirza was a great singles talent but it was right for the Indian to focus on doubles due to the demanding nature of the game.

“It takes so much both mentally and physically to play in two formats. It becomes difficult to give equal attention to singles and doubles,” said Sharapova on her first visit to India.

The World No.2 recalled her on-court meetings with Sania, who has stopped playing singles owing to recurring knee problems.

“It has been long since we played but she was a great talent. I am really happy that she is doing well in doubles. It is hard to continue with both formats. Sometimes you got to choose one,” said Sharapova, who played against Sania twice including the fourth round at 2005 US Open.

Sania is ranked 12th in doubles and 280th in singles.

About Sania’s decision to compete only in the doubles, Sharapova said that one has to understand that tennis is a very physical sport and it needs a lot of hard work to sustain at both the formats.

“You have to understand that it is not easy to play in both the formats of the game. It is very challenging and sometimes you have to make the choice,” said Sharapova, who is on her maiden trip to India.

Sharapova, meanwhile, said that it was not an overnight process to reach the top and it takes hard yards to make what you are.

“It is not an overnight process. Share talent, coaches or money can’t get you the success. The sport has become very physical, even the first round of the competitions is getting very tough. You don’t see young teenagers winning the big championships,” she said.

On her first encounter with India, Sharapova said, “It feels amazing that I am here. It has taken me so long to get to India. I have so much of fans in this country and it feels great to get such a warm welcome. I wish at some point of time they can watch me live,” she said.

Asked about her tryst with the Indian cuisine and what memories she would take home from here, the versatile athlete said: “I arrived here last night. In the morning I asked the chef on what should I try of the Indian food. I had a Dosa which tasted really nice. I wanted to have this great Indian experience. There is so much energy in the city, I have been in some quite areas recently and I really liked the culture and the people here.”

Asked whether she will be visiting the Taj Mahal, the Russian said it won’t be possible this time around. However, she said that she would like to explore the city markets and take some souvenirs for her friends back home.

More In: Tennis | Sport