Sania Mirza, World No. 1 – that’s the biggest story in Indian tennis this week and for the year so far. Elsewhere, Yuki Bhambri won an ITF Futures title in Uzbekistan while Rohan Bopanna, Ankita Raina and Prarthana Thombare also reached finals to round off a good week for Indian tennis.
SANIA MIRZA is World #1
Unless you have been on another planet, you would have heard about Sania Mirza’s historic achievement of becoming the first Indian woman to reach the World No. 1 ranking in tennis. Mirza has come a long way from being an overnight teenage session to a singles player, who was “struggling with injuries” and now to the World No. 1 doubles player.
Mirza’s rise to the top was cemented by her win on Sunday with Martina Hingis in the final of the Family Circle Cup in Charleston. The 6-0, 6-4 win over Casey Dellacqua/ Darija Jurak was their third title and 14th match win in a row. The win was her 26th career doubles title and her seventh in the past 12 months.
Though Sania Mirza is still chasing that elusive Grand Slam women’s doubles crown, that chase may end a few months down the line when the duo, who are already the leaders in the WTA Race to Singapore, head to Europe for the French Open and Wimbledon.
Mirza, who is now working on her autobiography which she has tentatively titled “Against All Odds”, spoke about her long journey to the top which started when she was six years old.
“Tennis at that point when I was six, there were no clay courts, there were no hardcourts. We used to play and practice on courts made out of – I’m sorry, but made out of crap. Cow s***. No jokes. That was the only court that was available. To come from there, pick up a tennis racquet and have the guts to say, ‘Okay, I am going to go and play at the highest level in the world,’ it’s really against all odds.”
Mirza will now represent India in the Fed Cup competition before heading back to Europe for the clay court season.
Indian Tennis on a high – Yuki Bhambri Wins ITF Futures
On the ITF circuit, top seed Yuki Bhambri capped a successful week with a title run at the ITF $15K event in Karshi, Uzbekistan beating Dzmitry Zhyrmont 6-2, 6-4 in the final – his fifth straight sets win in a row. The win is his first title of the season and the 13th of his career.
In Indonesia, top seed Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan was knocked out in the second round by Japan’s Sora Fukuda while Ronit Singh Bisht also reached the second round where he was beaten Darren Polkinghorne.
On the ATP World Tour in Casablanca, Rohan Bopanna, playing with Florin Mergea after splitting with Daniel Nestor, reached the final where they were upset by the unseeded duo of Rameez Junaid/ Adil Shamasdin. Meanwhile at the US Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston, Somdev Devvarman and Sanam Singh bowed out in the first round to Johan Brunstrom/ Donald Young. Somdev did not do too well in singles and could not qualify for the Main Draw. Here is hoping for a turn in fortunes for India’s leading tennis player.
At the ATP Challenger in Turkey, India’s Saketh Myneni had a good week, reaching the semi-finals after beating World No. 118 Aleksandr Nedovyesov. Myneni’s run finally ended at the hands of second seeded Dudi Sela, who went on to win the title. Ramkumar Ramanathan also played the event where he lost in the second round to fifth seed Radu Albot. Myneni also reached the doubles quarter-finals in Turkey. Elsewhere Divij Sharan was knocked out in the first round of doubles at the ATP Challenger in Mexico.
Ankita Raina reaches ITF Final in Ahmedabad
Ankita Raina also had a good week at the ITF $25K event in Ahmedabad where she reached her first final of the season. Raina lost 4-6, 6-7 to former World No. 36 Anastasija Sevastova. Prarthana Thombare and Sowjanya Bavisetti also made it through to the last eight while Riya Bhatia and Dhruthi Tatachar Venugopal reached the second round. Thombare also reached the doubles final with partner Nao Hibino, going down to Peangtarn Plipuech/ Nungnadda Wannasuk 3-6, 6-2, 12-10.
Its worth mentioning one more time – Sania was crowned as World No. 1 in doubles this week! Meanwhile Ankita Raina climbs 2 spots to No. 286 and Prarthana Thombare climbs seven spots to No. 342. In singles, Raina climbs 4 spots to no. 248 while Thombare climbs 8 spots to No. 480.
Among the men, Devvarman climbs 2 spots to No. 297 while Ramanathan climbs 8 spots to No. 225. The big mover is Saketh Myneni who jumps 34 spots to no. 230 after his semi-final run in Turkey. And in doubles, Paes and Bopanna hold steady at the No. 23 and No. 24 positions respectively.