Sania Mirza expects tougher 2006
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Sania Mirza expects tougher 2006

After a career-defining 2005, it's time to take stock of reality. And the tennis sensation Mirza is realist to the core. In pictures | Sania: Attitude Unlimited

tennis Updated: Jan 03, 2006 19:37 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Indian tennis sensation Sania Mirza said on Tuesday that she was expecting a tougher season ahead after her breakthrough 2005.

Mirza, 19, said she would no longer be the surprise package after becoming the first Indian to win a WTA tour event and gaining more than 100 rankings places to 34.

"In the second year the girls know your game -- you're no rookie any more," said Mirza ahead of the eight-player Champions Challenge invitational.

"Everyone's looking out for you so it gets tougher."

Mirza will line up against four of the world's top 10 here less than two weeks before the Australian Open, where she reached the third round as a wildcard entry last year.

The Hyderabad Open champion also became the first Indian woman to make the fourth round of a Grand Slam before being knocked out of the US Open by top seed Maria Sharapova.

Her success has generated huge expectation in her home country but the teenager said she had set only modest goals for the season.

"This year I would like to stay in the top 35 and hopefully keep my ranking there so I get seeded in the Grand Slams, and hopefully just survive there," she said.

"My eventual goal is to be in the top 10 and the top five but I have enough pressure from everyone else so I just want to go out there, do my best and shut everyone out."

World number one Lindsay Davenport, second-ranked Kim Clijsters, defending champion Elena Dementieva and the Williams sisters are also appearing here, along with Czech star Nicole Vaidisova and China's Zheng Jie.

First Published: Jan 03, 2006 18:10 IST