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Saturday, April 20, 2024

I deserve wild card for Olympics: Sania Mirza

NEW DELHI: Her participation in the Olympics may have been jeopardised by a shock first-round exit from the French Open but top Indian tennis player Sania Mirza on Thursday asserted that she has done enough to “deserve” a wild card into the London event.Sania has had a successful season so far, forcing her way into four WTA finals and winning two titles. She, along with Russian Elena Vesnina, was also one the most successful pairs in the year 2011.However, the shock first-round exit from the French Open, where she needed to defend 1400 points, meant that Sania may not find herself in the top-10 of the WTA doubles rankings by the June 11 cut-off mark.Only a top-10 player gets a direct entry into the women’s doubles draw with the privilege to choose her partner.Sania, currently ranked 10th, is a strong medal contender for India in the mixed doubles event but to make the mixed doubles draw, she has to be in either singles or doubles main draw.”I am an optimist and I think I’ve done well enough to deserve a wild card. As far as I know the wild cards go to the most deserving players from countries that are not represented in the event,” Sania said.The ITF will issue its Olympic Qualification list on June 28 and it is perhaps the last chance for Sania to try and win an Olympic medal.Asked the way forward, if ITF ignores her application, she said,” As I said, I am an optimist and I think I have a great chance for a wild card at the Olympics.”In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Sania had made a first round exit in the singles and could not go beyond the second round in women’s doubles along with Sunitha Rao.Sania said her world has not fallen apart with the defeat at the French Open, despite the fact that it has dented her Olympic hopes severely.”I think a sportsman looks at these things a bit differently. We just give it our best shot and try to take victories and defeats in our stride.”Yes, I’ve had a wonderful five months since my third surgery and it is satisfying to know that with ranking points from half a year’s performance, I’m still hovering around a top-10 spot in the world!,” she said.Sania came into the French Open a day after winning the Brussels Open trophy along with Bethanie Mattek-Sands.She is in good touch and the first round defeat at the hands of Nina Bratchikova of Russia and Edina Gallovits-Hall of Romania came as a shock.Sania said having an injured Bethanie as her partner also had a role in the defeat.”The opponents played brilliantly but Bethanie injured her toe severely in the singles the previous day and was in considerable pain all through the doubles match.”She still played her heart out and that’s the kind of gutsy player she is. These things happen in tennis and one has to be prepared for wins and losses. Who could have predicted a first round loss for Serena Williams after she was two points away from winning the match in the second set?,” she said.Sania had focused more on doubles, keeping in mind the Olympics and played singles tournament selectively in the past few months.Asked if she will be back to routine singles on the Tour or would continue to focus on doubles, she replied, “I’ll take a call when the time comes.”

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