Leaner and fitter. Taking five weeks off from tennis, after a knee surgery, has really paid off for Sania Mirza. The 25-year-old, who was seen hitting a few balls at the DLTA complex on Monday morning with India's Fed Cup probables, believes she is getting back into her groove and would soon be ready for the 2012 season.
"Today's the fifth day I've practiced since the arthroscopic surgery on my left knee," she said after the morning training session. "What's good is that my knee feels fine. Sure, there is some soreness as my body is again getting used to the pressures of the court, but its nothing out of the ordinary."
So, what did she do since the surgery which was done over six-and-a-half weeks ago? "Extensive rehab," pat came the reply. "I had two trainers working with me for about five weeks, five hours a day. I worked with Darryn Lifson (former head physiotherapist with the Bangladesh and Pakistan cricket teams) and David Dwyer to get into shape. I did gym, treatments, basically everything else barring actually playing. So, after all that, I better look fitter!" the girl in the pink tee and black shorts added with a grin.
Her ranking currently stands at No. 87 after reaching a career-high 27 in 2007. This year, she was plagued by injuries and did not go beyond the quarterfinals at any WTA tournament. She had to play the qualifiers in many tournaments earlier in the year because she ended the last season as world No. 166. After August, her injury forced her to withdraw from tournaments in Guangzhou, Tokyo and Osaka. However, she had good fortune in doubles, winning three tournaments to help her reach a career-best No. 10 in September.
Sania had last stepped onto the DLTA courts to distribute trophies to the winners of the National tennis championships in October. Not having played competitively since the US Open (where she suffered the ligament tear on her knee), she felt it was necessary for players to take some time off. "Instead of rushing back to the WTA circuit, I felt I needed to take the break. You need to handle extreme pressure at the highest level of play. Not only does it drain you mentally, it also affects you physically," she said, flipping the ponytail back.
Cricket & shopping
And what did she do during the break? "Shoaib (Malik) was busy playing (against Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka)," she said shyly of her husband. "I played a wife's role. I watched cricket, travelled and shopped after my day's rehab was over. It was nice to have some time to myself."
While she trained, the young Fed Cup probables had a good hitting session. "My presence could also work as an inspiration. With Fed Cup in January, we must have a team prepared soon," she said. For now, the only thing on her mind is to take the upcoming season by storm. Hope her hard work pays off.