The Sania Mystry !!
Sania Mirza, the name that brought Indian Tennis on world’s centre stage. Though Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes were always there, India needed a youth icon, who could thrive on big stage and compete with big names of Tennis. In 2004 Sania turned pro, but it was January 2005, when she put her foot on International stage. It was Australian Open 2005, Sania bacame first woman from India to get a place in third round of a grand slam. And was playing Serena Williams for the place in
pre-quarterfinals. It was not a small thing to be in a third round playing Serena on Centre court. But Sania took it well, though she lost in straight sets, she matched shot-to-shot with Serena. But a lot had to be done. She reached fourth round at US open
and won a WTA title (her only WTA singles title till date) in front of home crowd at Hyderabad, the same year. Her sensational time on tour that year got her WTA Newcomer of the year award. In 2007 she was in top 20 at Number 27 in WTA Rankings.
Sania’s weapon was her vicious forehand and was rated one of the best in women’s tennis.
That forehand was brutally destructive when it was working, it often got her lots of unforced errors but it happens for a attacking player like Sania. But what is the weakest point of her game ? You would say :Serve. Yes, it is true that serve often lets her down.
But is it only her serve that needs improvisation, What else ? Its mentality. What separates top players from average players? It is their “never say die” attitude that take them to pinnaccle of success . Of course game is important, but as is attitude.
This is what sania lacks against top players , yes she registered victories against top players like Svetlana Kuznetsova, Martina Hingis, Nadia Petrova and Vera Zvonareva. But that was time when Sania was a newcomer. Fearless and brutal. But the scenario changed gradually. Whenever she played top player, many a times she takes upperhand with her forehand, then she is winning , then she is serving at crucial point. then that mentality factor comes into picture. And she starts to miss serves and eventually loses the match.
In 2009, Sania said she had already achieved what she wanted to achieve i.e. the top 30 status. Yeah, first women to win a WTA title, 4th round of grand slam and everything, but every Indian tennis fan thinks she coulld have done better. Indian tennis legends Vijay Amritraj always thought Sania Mirza as a Top 10-20 material, she had the game, but she lacks self- belief.
But she always performed consistently in doubles. 2009 Austrlian Mixed doubles titles was a defining moment of her career. Even in her Junior career, she won the Wimbledon doubles title (w/ Kleybenova). She partnered with many players like Chuang, Mattek-Sands,Peer, Mara Santangelo, Huber etc. But in 2011 she partnered with Russian Elena Vesnina, and got immediate success on WTA tour when she won Indian Wells and Charleston. She finished runner-up at this year’s French Open and semifinalist at Wimbledon that year. What makes Sania a good doubles player, The big forehand again is the factor. Vesnina said in the post match interview after winning Charleston doubles title “I think Sania has the best forehand on the tour. I see the eyes of the net player who’s guarding the ball from her forehand. They’re thinking, ‘Oh my God, no, the Mirza forehand! ” And it is the big factor in Sania’s success in doubles. In doubles it is more effective, since doubles is more of a volley game, and to volley such a high speed forehand is not at all easy.
As her doubles performance improved, the singles game was always in question. Flood of unforced errors, deserting serve on crucial points and the lack of self belief against big players have been big question on Sania’s career. and She starts looking for the consolation in doubles. Since India dont have any female tennis player even in Top 450 of singles(The next best player is Kyra Shroff at 474), The big question for all the Indian tennis fan is that “Will Sania ever play Singles again ?” We all hope !