With India yet to open it’s medal account in Rio, the mixed doubles tennis team of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna pulled off a major upset by defeating Great Britain’s Andy Murray and Heather Watson in straight sets to secure a semi-final spot today. The duo will now play Americans Venus Williams and Rajeev Ram to assure themselves and India of a medal on Saturday.
Speaking from the sidelines after a historic win, an ecstatic Sania said, “Both me and Rohan feel like a well oiled unit together. As every game progresses, we feel more comfortable in the decision we are making on court. The biggest asset to our game is that we can break anyone’s serve, regardless of their opposition. Rohan has been the pillar of the team, very consistent and doing what needs to be done. So any time something goes wrong, it’s probably when I do something stupid. However, we trust each other enough that we don’t make those mistakes.”
The Indian pair who were touted as medal favourites, defeated their celebrated opponents 6-4, 6-4 in a tight encounter. Now, even if they lose their semi-final match, a bronze medal play off will be played, giving them a second shot at a potential medal. She said, “That is true, but we don;t want to rest on our laurels just yet, we are focussing on getting better and definitely aiming for no less than gold. We are actually having a lot of fun on court, which is extremely important for any positive result. We defeated two champions today and defeating someone like Andy Murray does give us confidence, but at the same time we must not let emotion cloud our training and thinking.”
Did a lot of video analysis to study Andy Murray’s doubles game: Sania
The duo had specifically analysed the British team’s videos ahead of their quarter-final encounter. Sania added, “When we saw the video we realised Andy targetted the girl with his serves, as they were obviously stronger, and this is a common phenomenon in mixed doubles tennis. But, because I knew about this fact I was ready for it. Thanks to the analysis, i knew the kind of returns he was going to give and the kind of shots, he would target me with. I think I came good.”
Both Mirza and Bopanna also specifically planned to keep the ball away from Murray as much as possible. Sania said, “If you noticed the first few games we specifically targetted Heather. In the first three games, she won just 1 point, so I think we were able to break into their mental framework. You know if Murray gets the ball in a difficult situation, he is one of the best in the world to dispatch it.”
Rohan, who is coming out of a first round Men’s doubles exit seemed impressed with the team’s performance. He said, “Firstly, Sania played exceptionally well today, considering how Murray was targetting her. Also, I feel the games we lost, we lost because of unforced errors and that is one aspect we should focus on. Every day is a new day, so I can’t comment whether we can win a medal or not, but the way we have been playing, we can put up a fight against the best teams in the world.”
The second semi-final will be fought between Jack Sock and Bethanie Mattek Sands of USA against either Romania or Czech Republic tomorrow.