Sania Mirza has refused to partner Aisamul Haq Qureshi on the court despite the Pakistani expressing his interest to play alongside the Indian tennis star several times in the past.
Sania, wife of former Pakistan cricket captain Shoaib Malik, is currently partnering India’s Mahesh Bhupathi who is ranked 15th in the doubles rankings, a place behind Aisam. The Pakistani, who split up with India’s Rohan Bhopana end of last year, is now playing limited mixed doubles events, partnering Czech Republic’s Andrea Hlavackova on the court.
“I’m playing quite well with Bhupathi in grand slams so I don’t think I need to change anything right now,” Sania, who is ranked eighth in doubles world rankings, told The Express Tribune from Stuttgart. “We’ll partner each other in grand slams and playing with Aisam right now is not possible.”
Sania rules out playing in Pakistan for now
The Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) was also keen on bringing Sania onto a tennis court in Pakistan on her various tours of the country. The federation had also hoped for exhibition matches as well as short training sessions that the Indian could be part of. Sania, however, ruled that out too, citing the complete absence of international tournaments in Pakistan.
“I haven’t asked for a huge paycheque in order to feature in charity matches in Pakistan. But as far as competitive matches are concerned, there are, unfortunately, no international tournaments taking place in Pakistan for obvious reasons so there’s no chance I can play there.”
There was another setback for Sania’s fans in Pakistan as the tennis star, who is currently writing a book on her career and the important phases of her life, also ruled out a visit to the country in the near future citing a busy schedule, especially with the 2012 Olympics just over three months away.
Given up singles for doubles: Sania
Meanwhile, Sania confirmed that she has given up playing singles after undergoing her third surgery in the last five years.
“Tennis, and the surgeries, takes a lot out of you. I realised at the start of the year that, keeping my physical state in mind, it was impossible for me to pursue a singles and doubles career. Ever since I’ve given up on my singles career, my performance in doubles matches has been really good. I even reached a career-best seventh in the world and that’s why I’ve decided to concentrate solely on doubles tennis.”
Sania needs to stay in the top-10 by the June 11 cut-off date in order to be eligible for the Olympics and considering she is the only Indian female tennis player in the top-300, she is ‘ready to give it her all despite it being a very difficult task’.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2012.