Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - DEEPTI PAT­WARD­HAN @ Mum­bai

IN a ca­reer al­ready painfully punc­tu­ated with in­juries, Sa­nia Mirza seems to have hit an­other road­block. A tough year, which saw her rank­ing slip from No 1 to No 12, may well end in surgery for the In­dian ace.

“I have a bit of a knee in­jury now, but I have to see if I need surgery or not, be­cause I have had a bit of a prob­lem,” Mirza said on the side­lines of the In­dian Sports Hon­ours in Mum­bai on Satur­day evening. “I’ve been off for about a month, but I have a cou­ple more weeks now to get some rest and get used to it.”

Al­ways a show­stop­per, the well-rested Mirza turned up for the red car­pet event in a metal­lic grey suit and stiletto heels.

The in­jury late in the sea­son has thrown a span­ner in her plans, not only for the off-sea­son but for the com­ing year as well. The up­com­ing sea­son is cru­cial on the na­tional front since the Asian Games and Com­mon­wealth Games are sched­uled in 2018. It was an anti-cli­matic end to a year that be­gan with such prom­ise for the 30-year-old.

De­spite her high-pro­file part­ner­ship with Martina Hingis end­ing in Au­gust 2016, Mirza was the top-ranked dou­bles player at the year-end. She had joined forces with the ex­pe­ri­enced Bethanie Mat­tek-Sands and won the first WTA event of the year in Bris­bane.

How­ever, that would even­tu­ally be the only sil­ver lin­ing in an oth­er­wise bar­ren sea­son. With her part­ners strug­gling with in­jury or form, Mirza was also not able to set­tle in a team. She part­nered eight dif­fer­ent play­ers dur­ing the sea­son and had only one ti­tle and two fi­nals ap­pear­ances.

“It was a tough year with my part­ners get­ting in­jured. All in all, I still fin­ished close to top 10, so I am happy with the year,” said the In­dian, who has won all three women’s dou­bles Grand Slams with Hingis.

Mirza, once ranked 27 in the world in sin­gles, had made the switch to dou­bles on ac­count of the mul­ti­ple sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dures she has un­der­gone. Strug­gling to keep up with the in­creas­ing phys­i­cal­ity of the sport, the hard-hit­ting Mirza had un­der­gone two wrist surg­eries and three knee surg­eries by 2011.

It was in 2013 that Mirza started play­ing dou­bles ex­clu­sively and has ex­celled at it since, ris­ing to No 1 in the world in April 2015.

Sa­nia Mirza has part­nered eight dif­fer­ent play­ers dur­ing the sea­son

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