| Sania Mirza |
New Delhi: A career-best singles ranking of 27 and a slew of wins over top 20 players convince Sania Mirza that she has had the best year of her career so far.
Bouncing back from the surgery to touch new heights, Sania proved her initial success was not a flash in the pan and says it was a “personal victory” for her in the breakthrough year.
“It was a successful year for me — perhaps my best so far. And it was a personal victory for me to have done well despite the knee surgery that took away 10 weeks from my year,” Sania said.
After making a fine start to 2007, reaching the semi-finals in Hobart and Pattaya City, Sania’s momentum was snapped in March when a surgery to her right knee put her out of action for two months.
She bounced back in style in the second half of the season and had a superb run in the summer hardcourt season where she reached the final in Stanford, semi-final in Cincinnati and quarter final in the Tier I event in San Diego.
On the way, she conquered five top 20 players, including former world No. 1 Martina Hingis in Los Angeles.
“I was playing as well when I was ranked 66 at the beginning of the year as I was when I was ranked 27 towards the latter half of the year,” Sania said.
At the US Open, she became the first Indian woman to be seeded in a Grand Slam event even though her campaign was cut short in the third round.
Sania’s ranking rose to 27 in singles in August, and four doubles titles with four different partners saw her leapfrog to an all-time high doubles ranking of 18.
Towards the end of the year, injuries plagued her again and she opted out of a couple of events.
Sania, however, does not think she was the only player to face the problem and said, “one is always working towards improving one’s game and fitness and this is an ongoing process. Every top 100 player on the tour is struggling with fitness issues. Of course, Indians are probably not as fit as the average European or American but then we have our other strengths.”
After roping in a new physical trainer in Renuka Pinto, Sania is getting battle-hardenend for the season ahead.
“The role of the physio-trainer is manifold. She has to help the player increase her speed, endurance and overall fitness level. She also has to manage injuries and strengthen specific areas of the body to prevent injuries,” Sania says about her new fitness regime.
“We will concentrate more on the overall improvement in my game and fitness level with special emphasis on things like my serve and volleys.”
Women’s tennis, said Sania, has grown in leaps and bounds.
“It’s phenomenally high with a lot more depth today even compared to five years ago. I think the level is at its highest ever.”
Sania also set the target higher for the forthcoming year and believes that finishing within the top 10 is not impossible altogether.
“It is a possibility but a lot of things have to fall into place,” she said. (PTI)