| Virginia Ruano Pascual
World No. 1 doubles player Virginia Ruano Pascual will be making her maiden foray ' ďIím excited about itĒ ' on Indian soil. And sheís teaming up here with the new glamour girl on the circuit, Indian star Sania Mirza, at the WTA Sunfeast Open to try and make it a triumphant one.
The Spaniard, ranked 112 in singles, has won eight Grand Slam doubles crowns ' all with Paola Suarez. The Argentine, unfortunately is off the circuit with a hip injury, and Ruano Pascual has paired up, for the time being, with countrywoman Conchita Martinez.
The following are excerpts from a recent interview:
Q: When did you decide to partner Sania (Mirza) in doubles' Who approached you and when'
A: The officials of the Sunfeast Open 2005 tournament were kind enough to give me a wild card and they asked me if I would be interested in playing doubles with Sania. So I said Ďwhy not'í
Did you see Sania play at the US Open' What is your take on her game'
Sheís a very good, young player and had some very big tournaments in Dubai and at the US Open. Sheís very talented and has a big future ahead of her.
What are the areas in which you think she needs to improve'
I donít really know. I havenít seen her play enough to really know that ' maybe you should ask her coach!
How confident are you of clicking with Sania'
It usually takes a few tournaments to get into a good rhythm together, but it always depends on the playing style of both players, and if theyíre compatible. Some players are better suited to each other than others. I think Sania and I will try our best and see what happens. Iím looking forward to playing with her.
Is there any up-and-coming doubles team you feel that can scale the heights you and Paola have achieved'
There are always going to be good players coming up. Paola and I have managed to be at the top of the game for some years now, and our experience is very valuable.
You and Paola Suarez have won eight Grand Slams together. Which was the most satisfying of them'
All of them! But the dearest one for me was the first ' at Roland Garros in 2000.
What is the special chemistry between you two'
Iíve played with Paola for much of the past five or six years. Iíve won all my Grand Slams with her, and most of my titles on the Tour. When you play with someone for so long you can anticipate what theyíre going to do before they do it, and itís nice to have that chemistry with someone, because it makes playing doubles that much more interesting.
Can you tell us about some of your most memorable matches'
Winning Grand Slams are always memorable, but some other memorable matches were in the Olympics last year, in the semi-finals and final. They were great to be a part of.
How long will your partnership with Conchita Martinez continue'
Paola is off the Tour with a hip injury nearly all year and had surgery recently, and so sheíll be out for the rest of the year. Conchi and I have played together quite a bit this year. We won Tier I titles at Charleston and San Diego and reached the finals at Toronto and the semis at the US Open. We also played in the Olympics last year, so we team up well too.
How do you train and keep yourself fit on a circuit that has such a demanding schedule'
I do a lot of off-court training... running, gym. Itís important to work on your fitness away from the court because it really helps you in your matches.
Your brother Juan Ramon Ruano is also your coach. How big an influence has he been'
Iím now working with Gabriel Urpi, who worked with Arantxa (Sanchez-Vicario) in the past. Heís trying to improve my volleys and help me stay calmer on court.
How much tennis do you think you have left in you, and have you thought of what you will do after you retire'
Iím taking it year-by-year for now. Iím not thinking about retiring at this stage. As long as I can compete at the highest level, I want to keep playing and doing what that I love. Iím not sure what Iíll do when I give up tennis. Ask me that when I do retire!