In what will be her last Grand Slam, Sania Mirza is pairing up with her first Mixed Doubles partner, Rohan Bopanna. The duo started with a sound straight set win against a local Australian pair, winning 7-5 6-3.
Speaking to the Sony Sports Network after the match, the duo shared their thoughts about the match and Sania’s last Grand Slam –
Q) Sania, any expectations from yourself in your Grand Slam in terms of a fairytale ending?
SM – No, I am just enjoying myself every time I step on the court. I know I am going to miss the competition, something I am going to miss the most. It is always so much fun to play with Rohan (Bopanna). He was my first ever Mixed Doubles partner (when I was 14 years old). It is great to play together.
I mean it would be pretty amazing if it happens. But I am taking it one match at the time. We are still very far from the finish line. So I am just enjoying and soaking in every moment.
Q) Rohan, coming to the match – you seemed to get better as the match progressed. Thoughts?
RB – I think the biggest thing for me today was first, playing on the ad side. It had been a few months since I had not played on the Ad side. So I was still getting used to that. Also got used to the way they were feeling the ball. It had been a while since I played a mixed doubles match.
It does take time but I missed couple of easy volleys on Sania’s serve to lose her service game. But luckily we broke back. But Sania was playing really great, returning Luke’s (Saville) serve extremely comfortably. That made it easy for me to put a lot of pressure on them when they were serving. That made the difference.
Q) Sania, we saw you get your son Izhaan and Rohan’s daughter Tridha onto the court after the match. Is that the future mixed doubles team from India?
SM – Hahahaha (laughs). I don’t know, but I’m hoping he doesn’t play Tennis. But if that has to happen, sure. How amazing would that be, right? Me and Rohan go back 20-22 years. He’s one of my best friends on and off the court. Izhaan and Tridha are stuck to each other’s hips, if you see them in the Players Lounge. They are so pumped and they were so pumped to be on the court. If they play tennis, I don’t see a reason why not!
RB – No comments on that. I think Izhaan looks absolutely comfortable, he’s been on the tennis court multiple times. It’s just Tridha’s second time on the court, so she was still wary of what’s happening.
SM – Come on, I’m not holding you to it. It’s okay, you can say yes (laughs).
RB – But it’s nice that after so many years for us, it’s amazing to see our kids watching us, and coming onto the court. It’s a great feeling. It’s truly, truly special. Who knows, maybe in the future!
Q) Sania, the nation wants to know what’s next for you after you retire.
SM – Honestly, I don’t have something as such. I have a few academies – one in Dubai and one in Hyderabad. I’ve been trying to do stuff, we both are actually, whatever we can with Indian Tennis. I am always there if Indian Tennis needs me in any way possible. If I can be of service, whether that’s in the structural way, in the federation, or wherever it may be.
However, I am looking forward to living a calmer life, where I am a little bit away from the media. More than that, spend more time with my son. I feel like I am pretty beat mentally, emotionally, and physically. And that’s the reason behind this. I feel like I need give time to Izhaan. I want to do a normal parent’s job of going and picking him up from school. But I am around guys, I am not going anywhere. I am always there for Tennis, and especially for Indian Tennis.
Q) Rohan, you trained with the world #1 Iga Swiatek in Dubai during the off season. How was it?
RB – I got a call from my coach (Scott Davidoff) asking if I would like to hit with Iga (Swiatek). I said why not, as it’s not often you get to hit with World #1’s, men’s or women’s. She is such a warm person. I got to hit with her for 45-50 minutes. When she was volleying, her coach asked me to help her out. There were a few things I thought she could do better. She immediately picked up and learned really fast. When I see her now, we acknowledge each other and speak for 2 minutes or so. That’s the beauty of our sport, how we meet new people through our sport and build a rapport.
Photos from the match –