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HindustanTimes Tue,02 Sep 2014

Tennis

Jump in ranking has Sania redrawing plans
Sharmistha Chaudhuri, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, October 08, 2012
First Published: 23:49 IST(8/10/2012)
Last Updated: 01:37 IST(9/10/2012)

Last week's China Open was to be her last event this season. However, as Monday's Women's Tennis Association rankings' chart showed her jump seven spots to No. 13, Sania Mirza has decided to play one more event before focusing on pre-season training.

"It was a sudden decision to play the Kremlin Cup in Moscow next week," she said, busy with her Blackberry. Busy searching for a hotel in Moscow, she added, "It all depends on if I get my visa!" And if she does, she will be pairing with Spanish Nuria Llagostera Vives. The Indo-Spanish duo finished runners-up in Beijing two days ago.

As a professional, 2012 has been a good year for the 25-year-old. Not only did she pocket a Grand Slam (mixed doubles in French Open), but also reached a career-high rank of No 7 in doubles.

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Singles option Open
Having stated a week after the London Games that her priority would shift to doubles, Sania isn't ruling out a singles return. "After Moscow, I will take a few days off and then start the grueling off-season training. Then, after looking at how my body feels, I will take a decision on whether or not to play singles next season," she said.

After her partnership with Russian Elena Vesnina came to an end, she paired with American Bethanie Mattek-Sands at the Rome Masters. With a win at Brussels the following week, the Indo-American combination seemed to be working well till Mattek-Sands fell ill.

"We complement each other well on court. But her priority is singles right now. If I decide to focus more on singles, and if we play together next season, it shouldn't be a problem. But then, I have spoken to a few others too. We are still trying to decide on the partnership," she said, sitting by the DLTA complex swimming pool.

Olympic aftermath
Sania has tasted success, partnering Mahesh Bhupathi in Grand Slam mixed doubles - winning two and reaching the final of one. But after the Olympic fiasco, Sania preferred to play with Brit Colin Fleming at the US Open. So, will 2013 see Sania-Hesh pairing up again? "Frankly, we haven't spoken about it yet. We always do our off-season together (this time with trainer Scott Davidoff). Let's see how it goes. As of now, I have no idea," she stated.

The 25-year-old has always looked at performance rather than rankings. "Of course, I want to better what I accomplished the previous year. Do I want to make the top-5? Of course! But, I want to win more Slams, do well in big tournaments first. Rankings will follow."

Academy on track
Having expressed a wish to start an academy, Sania's dreams are on the right track "Works are underway and the academy should be running by January-February next year," she said, the face lighting up. "I want to give something back to the game. Instead of saying someone should be in the top-100 rankings, we should try to do something about it.

"We've already hired a few coaches but we want to get an international coach every month. I've also have spoken to other players who run their academies to set up an exchange programme because exposure is a major aspect," she added animatedly.

"We must have a top-100 player among women. People say I have been inconsistent, but I've been in the top-100 seven out of eight years. That's consistency," she stated.


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