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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Long road to success

After defeating Martina Hingis in the second round of the East West Bank Classic, Sania Mirza has stormed into the top-30 club for the first time. Tennis ace chats with Akshay Sawai about her path to success...

sports Updated: Aug 09, 2007 06:09 IST
Akshay Sawai
Akshay Sawai
Hindustan Times

WHAT DO you call a cocky, pretty tennis player who delivers a hit in Los Angeles? A Volleywood diva?

Maybe. But who are we talking about? Sania Mirza. On Tuesday night in LA, the Indian toppled former world No. 1 Martina Hingis in three sets 6-2, 2-6, 6-4.

The victory, achieved in the second round of the East West Bank Classic, was Sania's second over the Swiss star. It also continued her winning run on the American hard court circuit. Sania reached the quarterfinals in San Diego, the final in Stanford and the semifinal in Cincinnati. Her performance in San Diego admitted her into the top-30 club for the first time. With her Los Angeles exploits, she should rise higher.

In between chalking up creditable wins — Hingis was her fifth top-20 victim in about a month — the 20-year-old replied to the Hindustan Times questionnaire. The replies were sent before Sania’s match against Hingis. We have updated those questions and answers which we could. Excerpts:

Congratulations for the win over Martina. What do you have to say?

To beat one of the quickest players on the tour and to have to dig deep to do it, that feels great. It tells me that I can do it again.

<b1>Five top-20 scalps. A semifinal, a final and one quarterfinal. What would you attribute it to?

Hard work over the last few months to overcome my weaknesses, playing on my favourite surface and a bit of luck.

Four of your wins in these events have been three-setters. Does that give you confidence?

Yes, I am feeling fitter and stronger than ever before.

Which of your performances in the last three tournaments gave you the most satisfaction and why?

Playing in the final of a Tier II tournament at Stanford for the first time and beating Patty Schnyder and then World No. 14, Dinara Safina in San Diego.

How are you feeling mentally and physically going into the US Open?

Feeling good as of now.

How are you going to prepare?

I'm preparing right now by playing all these run-up tournaments on hard courts.

You are likely to be seeded at

theUS Open. How much of a difference would that make?

If I am seeded, it will ensure that I do not play a top-32 player in the first two rounds. However, no top-100 player is easy and it still takes a pretty good effort in order to advance in a Grand Slam tournament.

You are playing with a newer racquet. How has that helped?

It's all a question of feeling comfortable with the tools one uses.

Reports here say you went to the net quite a bit against Shahar Peer. What are your views on the tactic of rushing the net?

It adds a new dimension to my game and should stand me in good stead if I can successfully do that against other players as well.

You were No.66 at the end of 2006. Now you have bettered your previous best of 31. How has the journey been?

It's been work, work and more work but I've enjoyed the process.

What/ who do you draw strength from when things are not going smoothly?

I have great faith in God and in the abilities that He has given me..

First Published: Aug 09, 2007 05:08 IST