For Indian tennis queen Sania Mirza, it has been a year to remember. She started the season by annexing the Australian Open crown alongside the legendary Martina Hingis. The two eventually parted ways but Mirza did not let that affect her and swiftly moved on to achieving more success with new partner Barbora Strycova, finishing 2016 with a staggering eight titles. In the process, she also staved off the challenge from a couple of contenders to finish the season at the numero uno position.
The 30-year-old is unsurprisingly delighted with all her accomplishments and called finishing the year at No. 1 as a ‘proud moment’ for her.
“It was an unbelievable year for me, to finish at number one again, to win 8 tournaments, to win a Grand Slam, to be in the final of another. I can’t ask for a better year, so it’s been an incredible year and I am so happy to be number one, to also finish at number one is a proud moment for me,” Mirza told PTI during a promotional event in Mumbai.
With six Grand Slam titles in her kitty, she is now just one short of completing the much-coveted Career Slam in both the women’s doubles and mixed doubles categories. Obviously, filling in the missing pieces in her illustrious resume is the target now as she sets her sights on the French Open women’s doubles and the Wimbledon mixed doubles titles.
“I would love to win a Grand Slam next year. If that does happen (winning women’s doubles French Open) it would be amazing. I won’t kill myself if I don’t. And it’s the Wimbledon mix that I am missing. It would be amazing for me to have three back-to-back years with at least one Slam. So that would be my goal really and everything else follows,” she said.
Any talk about Sania Mirza’s phenomenal 2016 season would undoubtedly veer around her split with Hingis. She spoke highly about her days together with the Swiss Miss, admitting it was an incredible partnership and that she learned a lot from her.
With the 30-year-old Strycova being of the same age as her, it had been a seamless transition from one partner to another. They have known each other since they were 14 and the familiarity is definitely helping them reap the rewards now.
“Not many people have achieved what we achieved together, so it was an incredible partnership and relationship we had on and off the court. I did learn from her because she is more experienced,” she said on her partnership with Hingis.
“But with Barbara, we are exactly the same age, she is older to me. We have played juniors together, we have known each other since we were 14-years old.”
And Sania is confident that Strycova’s commitment to playing singles simultaneously is not going to come in her way of playing doubles with the Indian.
“We played about six tournaments last year, we won two and played a final. We obviously had a good start and she is a great fighter, which is her biggest quality as a tennis player. So do I feel she is going to focus more on the other (singles), of course not. Whenever we step on the court, it is going be 100 per cent or we do not get on the court.”
Mirza also has no plans of not continuing with Croatian ace Ivan Dodig in mixed doubles until and unless Dodig’s back injury prevents him from competing in Australia. The two reached the French Open final this year where they lost to Leander Paes and Hingis in three sets.
“At the moment Ivan and me are planning to play together. He is a bit injured with his back over the last 4-5 months, so he is struggling with his body. He does play singles and doubles, so at this point, yes, but in the next couple of weeks, he told me he is going to be training in Australia. And if he feels his back is not 100 percent, then maybe I will play with somebody else.”Published 21 Dec 2016, 13:34 IST