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I had the privilege to interview the leading lady of Indian tennis Sania Mirza at the Australian Open today, and we chatted about her match today, her new doubles partner, her disappointment at being unable to defend her mixed doubles title, what she does to kill time at the Grand Slams, her favourite players and of course her impending nuptials. Here are some of the things she candidly shared...
About the Women's Doubles
Asked how she sees the doubles progressing and if she and Virginia were forming a good rapport, Sania replied having won two matches in the Slam, things were going well and as a pair they were getting better with every match. Since this was just their third tournament together, it took a little getting used to playing with a new partner, especially considering that she usually plays on the forehand side of the court, but with Virginia she had to play the ad court which took her sometime to get adjusted to.
She felt that the matches were only going to get tougher as the tournament progressed, and the pair have a seeded team up next (they take on the no.7 seeds Francesca Schiavone and Alisa Kleybanova in the third round).
Next up, I asked Sania a bit about her first round match yesterday with the two 39-year olds - Yayuk Bazuki & Kimiko Date Krumm. When quizzed about having watched play as a kid in school, she shared she predominantly watched Steffi Graf and Monica Seles, though Date and Bazuki were definitely around as well, being from the same generation.
Sania said, "It was funny because its such different strokes to play against (someone who) is literally from a different era ... It took us a little while in the beginning, two - three games, to just get used to the fact the way they hit the ball, and the way they strike it, it doesn't come off their racquets like normal ... how it comes off usually!"
About Mahesh's Injury and pulling out of the Mixed Doubles
Sania shared she was obviously disappointed at not being able to defend their Mixed Doubles title, especially considering they did so well in Australia over the last couple of years, making the final in 2008 before going one better and winning the tournament in 2009.
But, she bounced back immediately about there being 3 more slams left, and this was just the start of the year.
A concerned Sania added, "Injuries are something that is not in our control, there is not much one can do about it ... everybody likes to defend their titles ... it was disappointing, but that's just the way it is ... being such a dear friend, the only thing I can think about is that he (Mahesh) get healthy.
On what else she does during the Slams
When asked if she watched any of the other players or matches at the Slams, Sania replied in a matter of fact manner that it was very hard not to: "Everytime you put on the TV, there is tennis going on!"
She added that just to get away from all the tennis last year she and Mahesh watched 5 movies in 10 days!
Sania shared, "You really don't want to keep watching tennis balls being hit considering you are doing that day in and day out, but yeah if there is a match like Nadal and Verdasco you are going to watch it."
On being quizzed about her favourite current players, she shared they were Roger Federer, who she felt was one of the greats, if not the greatest ever, and Kim Clijsters, who she was happy to have back on tour.
On her forthcoming wedding and plans thereafter
Sania refused to share a date for when she would eventually tie the knot, stating that she would prefer to keep that decision a very private one, but did commit for the benefit of all her fans that she would definitely be participating in all the Grand Slams this year.
This interviewer appreciated her need for privacy, but did raise the possibility of continuing playing the game post marriage, whether immediately, or after perhaps even a sabbatical ala her hero Kim Clijsters or the aforementioned Kimiko Date (now of course Mrs. Krumm). Showing great maturity, Sania shared that it was a bit premature to take such a crucial decision at such an early stage and when she did it would be a very personal choice.
She said, "How I feel about it today could be different to how I feel about it tomorrow...but to me maybe I am a bit Indian cultured I feel that when I'm getting married your priorities change as a woman."
Sania continued, "If I had to keep travelling 30 weeks a year and get married (it would be very difficult) ... I would like to spend time with my husband ... all our life we live a very abnormal life in a suitcase ... if I do get married I'd like to be with my husband and maybe start a family ... but tomorrow I might get bored at home and I might want to start travelling again and playing again ... so you never know!"
Sania did add though that even if she did get married she wouldn't really be giving up tennis the very next day!
A full audio recording of the interview will be available for fans tomorrow...
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