Becker coach nod for Sania Mirza

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  • Published 11.10.03

Calcutta, Oct. 11: Bob Brett has agreed to take Sania Mirza under his wings. The Hyderabad teenager will get her first lessons from the much sought-after coach either end of December or early January, at Brett’s academy in San Remo, northern Italy.

Brett, whose list of pupils include Boris Becker, Goran Ivanisevic and Nicolas Kiefer, was due to have taken a decision after watching Sania play at the US Open last month.

But with the weather god playing truant in the second week of the year’s last Grand Slam meet, the junior doubles events were scrapped while Sania lost early in girls’ singles.

Brett never got to see the Wimbledon girls’ doubles champion in action in New York, but has still agreed to work with India’s first ever female Grand Slam winner on Mahesh Bhupathi’s request.

“It was nice of Bob to agree… he said he would be happy to give it a shot,” Bhupathi informed The Telegraph from Vienna where he is playing the CA Trophy indoor meet.

The Monte Carlo-based Brett, who coached ATP Tour players for 20 years, didn’t take up any new ‘individual’ assignment this year as he was busy setting up his academy for promising youngsters in Italy. It came into being a couple of months ago. Earlier this year, Brett completed an MBA degree course from a Paris university.

“The exact dates of Sania’s stints with Bob haven’t been finalised, but she will definitely be making about five lengthy visits to his academy next year. The first of those will be end of this year or early next year,” said Bhupathi whose company Globosport manages Sania’s tennis.

Training with one of the world’s leading coaches won’t obviously come cheap. “It would amount to a huge bill in dollars, but to get the best you have to be prepared to spend big,” Bhupathi said.

He expects the “majority” of the expenses to be covered by the grant promised by Andhra chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, though she is yet to get the cheque.

“We are negotiating with a few companies for sponsorship… hoping some of those will work out.”

Two months ago, Bhupathi had also talked of getting a foreign trainer to work with Sania. “That has been put on hold for the time being… Let Bob see her and identify the areas of improvement, then we’ll follow up his recommendations,” said Bhupathi.

Having won the Kremlin Cup last week in Moscow, Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi are in the semis of the Viena meet.

All their focus right now is on winning as many matches and titles as possible so that their dream of finishing the year as the world’s top team is fulfilled.

“We are on a roll… just want to keep it like this till Houston (season-ending Masters Championship) so that we can give it our best shot at world No. 1,” Bhupathi said.

Plans for next year, he added, have not yet got a concrete shape.