Tennis

Have a lot of tennis left in me: Sania

New innings: Sania Mirza, who is planning a comeback, says she is enjoying and glad to put hereslf back in the grind.

New innings: Sania Mirza, who is planning a comeback, says she is enjoying and glad to put hereslf back in the grind.   | Photo Credit: VVS

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“The first target is to be healthy, not winning or losing”

Six-time Grand Slam winner, Sania Mirza, says she is excited and nervous about her comeback when she will partner Ukrainian Nadiia Kichenok in the Hobart International and Rajeev Ram of US for the mixed doubles in the Australian Open next month.

“I could have easily hung up my boots, enjoyed my life instead of struggling to play the game for hours under the sun,” says 33-year-old Sania in an exclusive chat with The Hindu on Saturday, after a three-hour training session with Davis Cupper Saketh Myneni, Olympian Prarthana Thombare and the young talent G. Sai Karteek Reddy here.

“But, honestly I am enjoying and glad to put myself back in this kind of position and be able to compete. Something to be very proud off. So, whatever comes now, it will be a bonus,” she says.

“I love playing tennis. I feel I have a lot more tennis left in me. It was not a plan all along definitely. For, there were so many unknowns when you are blessed with a baby (Izhaan). Like how emotional you will be, how physically challenging it will be and how your body reacts,” said Sania. “The big issue is how long I can do this,” she added.

What were the biggest challenges? “A lot really. Luckily, I have solid family support of parents and my sister Anam. This has been the easier part of my journey so far.

“And, losing 26 kg weight in four to five months and starting from negatives, not even zero, when your body completely changes, you lose all your muscles, it was never easy,” Sania explained.

“I have no set goals like winning any title. I just want to see whether I would be able to compete at the highest level or not,” she said.

“Yes, certainly, Tokyo Olympics is at the back of my mind for sure. And, it will be great if I can make it to what would be my fourth Olympics,” she said.

“But, again, that is not something which is my immediate goal. I have to see how my body reacts, behaves after match-play. So, the first target is to be healthy, not winning or losing,” she added.

Will there a critical review after the Hobart and the Australian Opens? “I think it will be too soon to make a judgement.

“After a two-year long gap, atleast couple of months and a couple of more tournaments are needed to do that,” says Sania.

On her new doubles partners, Sania says she is excited to partner Rajeev. “I never played with him. But, he is a very close friend of mine since I was 12 and he 14 years. It will be lot of fun and more so he is the defending champion in Melbourne,” says Sania.

“Nadiia is a very solid player, ranked World No.38. Well, I am not saying I am going there to win the Australian Open, but I want to enjoy every moment,” she concluded.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 8:08:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/have-a-lot-of-tennis-left-in-me-sania/article30427083.ece

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