Having ended a successful year with victory in the WTA Tour Finals, Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza has set her sights on becoming the doubles world number one next season. (Sania Mirza Reveals She had Plans to Quit Tennis in 2010)
"That's pretty amazing. People expect that much of me and wish so much for me. Like I said, I am getting closer to my goal which is to try and be number one in the world. I got a Slam this year, won the Championships. That's one of my goals. So, I will try and be number one. Hopefully, that will happen next year," she told reporters here. (Sania Mirza Praises PM Narendra Modi, Thanks Him for Motivating Players)
Sania won the prestigious WTA Tour doubles title with Zimbabwean Cara Black in Singapore, a mixed doubles title at the US Open besides winning the mixed doubles gold at the Asian Games.
She said the year has been "incredible" for her.
"To finish off the season like this, it's good. Basically, I achieved what any tennis player wants to achieve in a year, win a Slam, win a gold medal and win the year-end Championships. It has been an incredible year for me. Especially, to finish off the partnership (with Black) this way, on such a high, winning the way we did in the final. It has been pretty amazing," she said.
She said the secret of her success is hard work and nothing else.
"There is no secret, unfortunately. You have to work. You have to keep working. As long as you keep working, it will come. It does not happen overnight as people think and hope that it happens. It has been a long career for me. I have been doing it for 21 years of my life. I cannot think of doing any thing else at least at this point of time. When you are down, you have to work even harder. That's when you come through," she said.
Replying to a query, she said she felt great when Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated her on her win.
"He is an extremely dynamic personality. He is a great leader. I met him twice now. He tweeted to me a few times which is very exciting. Whenever I win, he is extremely encouraging. I think that is amazing for a Prime Minister to take notice of an athlete and encourage them," she said.
"I actually want to thank all those people who put me through that. That makes me mentally tough. I think fighting a match point is so easy, than these people that I fight here. It is not just this year. It has been happening for a long time now. I wish them well. They have made me tough. It has also shown how much the country supports me. I think that came out visibly," Sania said about the controversy that haunted her.
She said she respects the decision of Cara Black to end their partnership.
"As tennis players, there are some tough decisions we have to make. I think as tennis players, as athletes, we have to look forward what's happening forward. You have to accept change. I respect her decision. Because, like she said I am at the prime of my career right now. That's her comeback. She already had a baby.
"May be she is thinking of another one. She is planning to go the other way and see where life takes her. I completely respect and understand. I wish her well. Of course, it is really hard, to win the biggest championship in the year and say that this is going to be our last tournament. It's not like we are splitting, because we don't want to play together," she said.
She said she is looking forward to the partnership with Hsieh Su-wei.
"Every partnership, relationship takes time to click. You have to work on it. You have to believe in the partnership. Me and Cara clicked immediately. Su-wei is a great tennis player. We have known each other for a long time. We will work on it. Hopefully, we will click," she said.
Sania said the recent months have been very taxing for her physically.
"It was extremely challenging for me. Last few months, it has been non-stop. It has been so hectic. I was sick before I went to the championships. It is something, you try and push yourself. Emotionally, to make certain decisions, whether to skip a tournament, go and play Asian Games, to come back with a gold from there and then still get into the championships and come back with a win from there. If I would have written a script, it would have been probably this way. It is a kind of living a dream," she said.
She said she and Cara Black have defeated formidable rivals in the finals (Hsieh Su-wei and Peng Shuai) as they never lost a final.
"Our rivals had a 12-0 record in the finals. They had never lost a final together. That was at the back of our head. We were trying not to think about it. Tennis is such an amazing sport and it gives you so many chances to fight. We were almost out of the tournament and we came back. Here we are, winning the tournament," she said.
Sania also felt that the upcoming IPTL would help tennis grow in India and Asia with top players like Roger Federer coming to the country.
"It is going to be amazing to have people like Roger Federer, Serena Williams. People like that to come and play in this country. It is going to be huge. I think that will help tennis to grow in this region. Tennis has grown a lot. But this will probably take it to the next level," she said.