Sports Tennis 18 Jan 2020 Sania after Hobart t ...

Sania after Hobart triumph: So you thought I was rusty?

PTI
Published Jan 18, 2020, 7:37 pm IST
Updated Jan 18, 2020, 7:39 pm IST
After two and a half years and a baby, tennis mom returns to the circuit with a resounding victory in her first tournament
Indian tennis star Sania Mirza and her doubles partner Nadiia Kichenok of Ukraine pose with their medallions after winning the WTA Hobart International trophy defeating Shaui Peng and Shuai Zhang in the finals, in Hobart, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. (PTI Photo)
 Indian tennis star Sania Mirza and her doubles partner Nadiia Kichenok of Ukraine pose with their medallions after winning the WTA Hobart International trophy defeating Shaui Peng and Shuai Zhang in the finals, in Hobart, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: There was not much rustiness but just the initial nervousness, which a “pleasantly surprised” Sania Mirza shook off to win a title in her first tournament in 27 months, capping off her comeback from a maternity leave in style.

Partnering Ukraine's Nadiia Kichenov, the trailblazing Indian tennis player annexed the Hobart International trophy with a straight sets win over second seed Chinese pair of Shuai Peng and Shuai Zhang.

 

She worked hard to get into shape but the way she moved, it seemed Sania was never away from the courts.

“It's something I did not expect totally, so to say, but I am excited to be able to do this in my first tournament on comeback," Sania told PTI in an exclusive interview from Melbourne.

“I honestly thought I would be a bit more rustier than I was. I was pleasantly surprised that I was not. But there are things I can improve and that is what makes a champion. You always want to get better in what you are doing, no matter how well you do."

The 33-year-old winner of six Grand Slam titles said she played without pressure, and insisted there was no secret to the swift success on comeback.

“There is no key, I wish I knew, there was one key to winning. I just enjoyed my game. You have to work hard, play your game. I was playing with a new partner, new gear after two-and-a-half years. There was no pressure and no expectations.

"The first match was the only one when I felt a bit nervous because I did not know how my body would react and how I would play. That match was difficult but it set the tone and momentum. I was happy to come though that one and after that things kept getting better and better," she said.

Sania said her body has certainly changed after giving birth to son Izhaan but she did not have to tweak her post-match recovery process much.

“It does change. I was dealing with a calf injury, from last month and I aggravated a bit today. I am still icing it as we speak but it should not be serious.

“The body is a lot different now. It recovers different. But recovery (process) has not changed so much, it's similar."

Asked if she could go for her shots as she was doing before the break, she said, “I was able to do enough, I can improve, no matter how I play."

"My serve was decent but I can improve. I the first match I was not serving that well and was not returning well on important points but by the time I was playing the final, I was doing both of those little better. It is a process, it does not happen overnight. It's something will keep working on."

Serena Williams set an example in 2018 when she came out playing highly competitive tennis after giving birth to her daughter Olympia. There are other tennis moms like Victoria Azrenka and Evgeniya Rodina.

Sania said she did not seek any input from tennis moms but their presence on the Tour is inspiring enough.

“I did not speak to anyone but it is inspiring to see so many moms around, playing well in different sports."

Sania will play the Australian Open mixed doubles with compatriot Rohan Bopnna after her original first-choice Rajeev Ram opted out due to health reasons.

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Location: India, Telangana, Hyderabad




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