SA­NIA MIRZA, 25

TENNIS, MIXED AND WOMEN’S DOU­BLES Hy­der­abad, Andhra Pradesh

India Today - - SPORTS -

“Even Rafael Nadal lost to a qual­i­fier ranked out­side the top 100 at Wim­ble­don, not be­cause some­thing went wrong but be­cause his op­po­nent played a lit­tle bet­ter than him on that day. These things hap­pen in tennis and one has to take it in one's stride.”

HER STORY In June, Sa­nia Mirza lifted the French Open mixed dou­bles tro­phy with Ma­hesh Bhu­pathi. Now she is in the run­ning to win an Olympic medal with Le­an­der Paes. Even though her coun­try hon­ours her medals and ti­tles by “us­ing her as a bait to pacify a dis­grun­tled tennis stal­wart”, she prom­ises to wear her best pro­fes­sional at­ti­tude. The PaesMirza match is not made in heaven and there isn’t much time to per­fect the pair­ing. Mirza had to fea­ture in the women’s dou­bles event in Lon­don in or­der to be el­i­gi­ble for mixed dou­bles. For this, she was paired with Rushmi Chakravarthi, a vet­eran on the tennis cir­cuit. The pair got a wild card en­try to play in Lon­don. The duo’s last as­so­ci­a­tion was a fruit­ful one, yield­ing In­dia a bronze at the Delhi Com­mon­wealth Games in 2010.

VAN­TAGE POINT Paes reached the fi­nals at Wim­ble­don this year with Elena Ves­nina of Rus­sia while Mirza won her sec­ond Grand Slam ti­tle at the French Open. Both have had a good Euro­pean sum­mer and if they can work as a co­he­sive team, they have a good shot at win­ning a medal.

CHAL­LENGE AHEAD In­dia’s clumsy women’s dou­bles pair­ing might not be able to face some of the finest in the world, from de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Serena and Venus Wil­liams of the US to World No. 2 Ag­nieszka Rad­wan­ska and her sis­ter Urszula of Poland.

OLYMPIC RUN- UP At 34, Chakravarthi is well past her prime. Mirza’s form has also been in­con­sis­tent since 2010. The two don’t look poised for vic­tory. Sim­i­larly, Paes and Mirza started prac­tis­ing to­gether only from July 23. Their in­abil­ity to train con­sis­tently means they will be sec­ond guess­ing each other on court, which could spell dou­ble trou­ble.

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