As she closed her 2013 season with a bang by winning the prestigious WTA China Open, Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza avowed that she is a better player compared to what she was last year.
China Open offers 500 more ranking points and a hefty USD 1,26,420 more to women's doubles winners than the victorious men's team in the same tournament.
It was Sania's fifth title of season, during which she was forced to switch partners frequently for several reasons.
In 2012, Sania won two titles whereas she ended runners-up in three others, including the China Open.
Sania ended her season with back-to-back titles with Zimbabwean Cara Black, with whom she joined forces for the Japan Open and the partnership took off with a trophy in the first tournament.
"I think, I have improved all round. Ny fitness has become better. I have also improved myself around the net. My serve has improved so I am a better player than what I was last year," Sania told PTI from Beijing.
"There is no better way to finish the year. I have been playing well. Sometimes you are unlucky and you don't win despite playing well. I am happy that I was able to convert these big moments and we played really well, specially in the last couple of weeks," she added.
Even as she changed five partners in 2013, Sania managed to win titles with three of them -- American Bethanie-Mattek Sands, Chinese Jie Zheng and Cara.
In their unbeaten nine-match streak, Sania and Cara also shocked world number one team of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci in the semifinals of the China Open. However Sania said they played their best in the summit clash, in which they scored a dominating 6-2 6-2 win over Vera Dusheniva and Arantxa Parra Santonja.
"It's great to play with Cara. She is amazing and had been number one in the world. Her serve is great, we played out best match in the final," she said.
Talking about playing with Cara, with whom she has extended her partnership for the full 2014 season, Sania said their on court chemistry works well.
"Me are Cara play very opposite games and that's why we are matching because she is very good at the net and I hit from the back of the court very big, we complement each other well. So that's one of main reasons we are doing so well.
"I am playing with Cara next year. We have decided to play together full season," she said.
Despite a stellar show all through the season, Sania cannot compete in the year-end finals as her partnership with Bethanie-Mattek Sands broke due to injury to the American after playing together for half-the-season.
Sania though is hopeful that things will be different in 2014.
"It's tough but that's how it works. There are things which are not under your control, you cannot do much about that. If someone is getting injured or something, you have to take it. You cannot do much about it, hopefully next year," she signed off.