India's most successful women's tennis player, Sania Mirza, recently spoke with Sportskeeda on a wide range of topics. During the interaction she also recalled her brief mixed doubles stint with Roger Federer, at the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) back in 2014.
Indian tennis veteran Mahesh Bhupathi had launched the IPTL in 2014, with four teams - Indian Aces, UAE Royals, Manila Mavericks and Singapore Slammers. All franchises had the right to pick an icon player, and while Indian Aces picked Rafael Nadal at first, the Spaniard had to withdraw because of an injury.
Just before the tournament, the Delhi-based franchise announced Roger Federer as Nadal's replacement. The Swiss tennis legend went on to play two matches during India's home leg in the capital city.
The Indian Aces managed to defeat Singapore 26-17 in the first tie that Federer played. However, in the next match, they lost to Novak Djokovic's UAE Royals by the scoreline of 29-22.
Sania Mirza recalled those heady times with delight, and showered Roger Federer with the highest of praise.
It was an absolute honor to be next to Roger Federer on the court: Sania Mirza
Sania Mirza was the marquee women's doubles player of the Indian Aces team, and she united forces with Roger Federer to play the mixed doubles matches in the competition. The Indo-Swiss duo thrashed Nick Kyrgios and Daniela Hantuchová 6-0 in their first outing, but suffered a 2-6 defeat at the hands of Kristina Mladenovic and Nenad Zimonjic in the next match.
Sharing her experience of playing with the former World No. 1, Mirza said:
"It was a lot of fun. I think Roger is a magician. I kept saying I have a blessing in the house. He's an absolute magician. He's a genius, and it was an absolute honor to be next to him on the court."
Roger Federer won both of his singles matches in the 2014 IPTL, defeating Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych. He even registered back-to-back wins in the men's doubles encounters, teaming up with Rohan Bopanna and Gael Monfils.
After winning the IPTL 2014 with Indian Aces, Federer switched to the UAE Royals in 2015. He was also scheduled to participate in IPTL 2016, but pulled out at the last minute due to financial disputes. The league was called off soon after that.
When asked about IPTL's shut-down during the interview, Sania Mirza vaguely mentioned there were administrative issues, and that only Mahesh Bhupathi knew the real reason for the cancellation.