Sania's Home Away From Home

She may be an Indian national heroine, but Sania Mirza is also happy to call Dubai home.

Published February 17, 2011 08:10

Sania's Home Away From Home
Shoaib Malik, Sania Mirza

DUBAI, UAE - It's been a tumultuous couple of years for Sania Mirza, on court and off. But after her marriage last year to Pakistani cricket star Shoaib Malik, the Indian tennis star seems more than content with her lot in life - and it's starting to show in the 24-year-old's results.Though her current ranking of No.134 is a far cry from the No.27 ranking she attained in 2007, Mirza has already risen more than 30 places this year. The fact that she pushed Justine Henin to three sets in the first round of the Australian Open augurs well as a sign of things to come.

And, although the WTA tournament she won at home in Hyderabad in 2005 no longer exists, at least Mirza - who became India's first female Grand Slam champion when she won the Aussie Open with Mahesh Bhupathi in 2009 - can consider the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships her new home tournament, after she and her husband set up a base in the Emirate after their marriage. Having fallen in the second round of the singles but still alive in the doubles with Elena Vesnina, she shared her thoughts about her 'new life' at a press conference earlier this week:

On her form at the moment…
"I've had a pretty good four, five months. Most importantly, it's been injury free, which is the most important thing obviously for everyone. But more so for me, because I've been so injured for the last couple of years. My wrist finally has stopped hurting. I played a tournament here two months ago, in December, and I was playing well. I carried that forward into the Australian Open. Obviously, I had a very tough match against Henin, and that's it. So I feel, yeah, fitness wise I'm at my best by God's grace in the last six months or so. Hopefully I can stay injury free for the rest of the year. That's my main goal."

On Kim Clijsters' return to No.1, as a married woman and mother…
"I think it's amazing for tennis to have Kim as the No.1 in the world. Not just as a tennis player, but I think she's a great ambassador for the game and a great personality and a great person off the court as well. It just shows that hard work can get you anywhere, whether that's tennis or anything. As far as I'm concerned, personally I don't know if I could do it after having a baby. You never know. It's been almost a year since I've been married. I still don't feel married, so I guess that's a good thing! I mean, we still feel like it's pretty new. He's here for a few days, so it's really good."

On whether living in Dubai eases the pressure of attention the couple receives at home…
"Not really. There are a lot of Indians and Pakistanis in Dubai as well. It's not like we're secluded or anything. We probably spent about a month in the last year over here. So even though it's home, it's kind of base for us, I'm still spending quite a lot of time in India because sometimes I train there, and I have a lot of commitments other than tennis which I have to go back to India for. But honestly, I like living in Dubai. I've always liked Dubai, since the first time I played here. I've always said it's home away from home for me. Right now it's home. We're pretty settled now - we're living in Dubai and we're happy."

On the support she receives from fans in Dubai…
"I enjoy playing here for various reasons, and the crowd is obviously one of them. Dubai has always had really good crowds. Every time I've played there's been a lot of people that come out and support. That's why it feels like home away from home, because I feel like everyone is for me in the crowd... well, 90% of the crowd. So it feels really good to play. I think I should thank the organizers as well who gave me a wildcard here."

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