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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