India Uncut

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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Fire in the belly, ball in the stomach

Sania Mirza has just beaten the US Open champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova, in the Dubai Open, the latest in an ongoing series of personal triumphs. Her pictures have been all over the Indian press in the last few months, and she has become as much of a glamour icon as a sporting hero. But it isn't all glam. Sania tells Shekhar Gupta:
[W]hen I am training, I get up at six in the morning. I am at the courts by 7:15 am, warm up, practice till about 9:30-10 am. I come back, have breakfast, go to college, do whatever little work I have in college. Then by 2 pm, I have to come back. I am back at the tennis court at 2:30 pm, have lunch, maybe in the car or something. I come back at 6 pm, go to the gym, then return by 7:30 pm. I am dead by 7:30 pm, sometimes I may go for a massage after that, or I am just asleep by 10:30 pm.

In the match against Kuznetsova, she battled her way through injury to win. Reuters quoted her as saying, "My ankle was killing me. It was the third time it has happened in the last three weeks. I was actually crying because I was in so much pain."

But she got back up and won the match.

Many other Indian sportspeople of the past would have given up, facing injury and one of the best players in the world. But Sania has loads of the one quality that is essential for a great sportsperson: aggression. In that interview with Gupta, she is asked at one point about the things that motivate her. Firstly, she says, it's "playing for India, having the Indian flag behind you". But there's more:
Secondly, I think it comes from "I want to hit her with that ball in her stomach". I think it comes from that too, I think that’s one of the reasons I hit every ball so hard.

Keep an eye on this lady.
amit varma, 12:41 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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