Playing for the country is priority for Sania

BANGALORE: Sania Mirza’s
WTA ranking has been sea-sawing
these last few weeks. The numbers against the Hyderabadi’s name has
slipped to 136 from the 120s of two weeks ago and will in all
likelihood sink to the 170s when the new ranking comes out on
Monday.

The 23-year-old, however, is unperturbed by the freefall. She
will go to Guangzhou for the Asian Games in the second week of
November, even if with a depleted Indian tennis squad, to try and
win some medals for her country. “Playing for India,” she said, “is
priority”.

“There’s no way you can balance a season like this one where you
are playing for your country in two major international
competitions (Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games) in a matter
of weeks,” Sania explained. “You have to make the tough choices.
You sacrifice those weeks you play on the Tour to improve your
ranking to play for your country. I love the feeling of winning a
medal for India. That’s what I’m looking forward to doing in
Guangzhou.”

In all it has been a season of trial for Sania, who was out of
the Tour for four months at the start of the year due to a wrist
injury. In the subsequent months, her ranking crashed from a top-60
position. The Indian gutted it out through the treacherous grass
court season and the early part of the hard court season before she
found form and confidence at the US Open in New York. In the
Commonwealth Games, she was once again the darling of the masses as
she gained a silver medal in the singles.

Wearing national colours, however, comes at a cost. It means,
among other things, that you miss three weeks of tournament play
(on the Tour) each time you choose to represent your country in a
competition like the Commonwealth Games or the Asian Games. The
fact that Sania was out of action last week means she was unable to
defend the 130 points she gained this time last year by making the
semifinals of the Osaka tournament, consequently her ranking
drops.

It is quite likely that Sania will be the only elite tennis
player from India at Guangzhou. India number one Somdev Devvarman,
gold-medallist in New Delhi, is likely to give the Games a miss.
Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna are presently
focussed on the season-ending doubles championships which clashes
with the quadrennial affair.

Sania, however, said she wouldn’t miss the Asian Games for
anything.

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