The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sania tops doubles rankings

Calcutta: Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes have both scaled the peak, some four years ago. Now, we have a third world No. 1 in doubles — this time from the distaff side, as a pleasant variation.

Sania Mirza, the Hyderabad girl who will be turning 17 in four months’ time, has been listed as the top player in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) junior girls’ doubles rankings issued Monday.

This was on the cards since the day she and Russian partner Alisa Kleybanova lifted the Wimbledon girls’ doubles title on the final day of the Championships to earn 180 ranking points. But as per the ITF rankings issued after Wimbledon got over, Sania was only No. 4.

The ‘discrepancy’ arose as Wimbledon did not grant the full quota of 180 points (including Grand Slam bonus) to the champions. It was apparently because the frequent rain interruptions at this year’s grasscourt Grand Slam meet forced the organisers to truncate the draw size of some of the junior events.

Following protests and requests for clarification from several quarters on the new points structure followed at Wimbledon, the Grand Slam committee met over the weekend and decided to revert to the existing system.

The 180 points in her bag, Sania is well and truly ensconced at No. 1. Her tally of 790 puts her a full hundred points ahead of the second-placed Kristen Flipkens of Belgium. At No. 4 is Sania’s Wimbledon partner Alisa — a significant improvement from her 15th place ITF had ‘awarded’ her last week.

PTI adds from Hyderabad: Sania’s focus, meanwhile, has shifted to a coach and sponsors. The country’s first ever female to clinch a Grand Slam crown is keen to get a solid financial hand which can help her work with a good coach.

“Some names (of coaches) and institutions (sponsors) have come up during recent discussion but we are still waiting for things to take a concrete shape,” an official of the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh said.

Mahesh Bhupathi, who has taken Sania under his company Globosport’s fold, has been holding discussions with the state officials on these issues. Sania trains with Mahesh and his father at the Bhupathis’ academy in Bangalore.

Andhra chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu announced after Sania’s Wimbledon conquest that the state government would do its bit to identify and engage a foreign coach for the teenager.

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