After Indian Tennis star Sania Mirza won the Doubles Title of the 2016 Australian Open along with Martina Hingis, the women’s doubles champion is back in India where she spoke exclusively to NewsX about her spectacular performance and how it transpired into a proud moment for India.
Q1) What is it that makes you and Martina Hingis such a formidable combination right now?
Well a lot of things. We consolidate other each other's strength, we make up for each other’s weaknesses, get along on and off the court, but I think most importantly we have a lot of strengths together. We both love playing under pressure. We both come out big under pressure most of the time. We help each other through a lot of tough moments on the court. So all in all, it’s just a few things that make us click.
Q2) Well 30 matches in a row right now for the two of you; how do you do it? Are you setting goals for yourself?
2) Sometimes. We don’t really sit and say we want to win this and this. I mean the goal is to win every tournament we play. Try to play and be at the peak of grand events and grand slams, but besides that we don’t really sit and say okay this is what we want to achieve. We both know that we both want to stay at number one in the world. We both know we want to win as many tournaments as we can this year and win as many slams together.
Q3) How did this collaboration happen; how did you both get together; how did this work out?
We had a conversation in Dubai last year; we thought we could play well together. We had a practice session in Doha and we thought let’s try and play at Indian Wells, Miami and see how it woluld go from there. We ended up winning all three tournaments.
Q4) Who initiated this collaboration?
I think I believe, I sent her message and asked her let’s talk. She said, “Oh, I was thinking about you today as well.” She came into my room and that’s how it got started.
Q5) Both of you are now, seeing that the next Grand Slam is the French Open; both of you are on the brink of a career Grand Slam, but I suppose French Open poses a different challenge as well?
Yes, I think that the French Open is something that’ll be challenging on many levels. But most importantly, it is not our best surface. So all in all, that'll be the toughest part to overcome because for both of us the clay is not a favourite surface. But, having said that, we'll try and come up with what we can and try and win it. It's a long way from here, but we'll try our best when we get there.
Q6) But I suppose you won't be able to avoid the pressure after winning a career Grand Slam – your big achievement?
No, we have enough pressures from everyone else; we don't need any more pressure on ourselves.
Q7) You've said that you'd love to win an Olympic medal and if you look at the Mixed Doubles for example, who is a potential partner for you in the Mixed Doubles?
I don't know at this point of time. When we get closer to the Olympics, we'll take a call on that.
Q8) But Bopanna and Paes are the obvious choices, or do you have any other preferences there?
Like I said, at this point, I don't know. As we get close, we'll take a call.
Q9) In Badminton after Saina Nehwal, India has PV Sindhu and Jawala Gutta as well, but why haven’t we seen the same band strength in Indian women’s tennis so far?
Yes, it is unfortunate. Tennis is a very global sport. It is played in over 200 countries. And it is not the first sport that comes to mind when a child is born. We don't say let's make him or her a tennis player in this part of the world unfortunately. And it is a very competitive sport; and like I said, it's a pity that we've not had. We hope we will have in the next generation.
Q10) In fact you've started a tennis academy; what is it that you're looking for when you get people into the academy to groom them for the future?
We'll try and give them the best and we'll try to give them the things that I never had. For example, I used to play in courts made out of cow-dung; there were no hard courts like the ones we played in the Australian Open. We'll basically try to give them the facilities which are given in Europe or America.
Q 11) How do you do that, because the disparity between the facilities and the services here are huge, so how are you trying to change the disparity?
Well, you just try to do it. As an academy, we're trying our best to bring it as close to the West as possible. We don't want kids to come out tomorrow and say that we did not have the facilities because that's a lie; they do have the facilities. You know, what me, Mahesh and Leander did not have 20 or 25 years ago. We try to give them the best that we can and of course, we have a long way to go to make people believe that they can be professional athletes and it can be tennis players. I think we've come a long way in the last 20 years.
Q 12) Last question. As you're looking for new talent right now, who all do you think are prominent talents in the Indian women's tennis right now?
There's a lot. I mean there's a girl called Karman Thandi who's from the north. There's a girl called Prarthana Thombare who's from the west and plays in my academy now. So there's a bunch of girls, there's Ankita Raina. These girls are all 20-21 year olds. These girls are the next generation that we have.