Sania Mirza not pressuring self for Olympic tennis gold

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Sania Mirza serves alongside teammate Martina Hingis during the women’s doubles final against Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu and Monica Niculescu at the Wuhan Open on October 3, 2015 (AFP Photo/)

Slow and steady.

Sania Mirza, India’s world number one doubles player, has vowed to take a calculated approach to next year’s Olympic Games, saying “I’m not going to kill myself!” if she fails in her bid to bag the gold medal.

This early, excitement over the Rio de Janeiro Games have already reached a fever pitch and speculations are running high over who Mirza will team up with as she aims to catch the elusive gold medal for India.

Mirza and her new partner, former world number one Martina Hingis of Switzerland, have blazed through the doubles circuit this year – bagging eight doubles titles together, including Wimbledon and the US Open. They also topped the China Open over the weekend.

The 28-year-old said that it would be “amazing” to win Olympic gold, but reiterated that it is not her lone target in a sport which has four Grand Slam tournaments each year.

“It would be amazing. As players we do want that, but we also have four Slams a year,” Mirza said in an interview with Agence France-Presse during the China Open in Beijing.

“So it’s not like a lot of other sports where they get one opportunity every four years -– we kind of get opportunities every four months.

“So it would be amazing, it would feel like probably I’ve won everything then if I win that Olympic medal. But if I don’t, I’m not going to kill myself. I mean life goes on.”

India’s success in the Olympics have been sparse, with only a lone non-team gold medal so far in the Summer Games urtesy of shooter Abhinav Bindra in Beijing in 2008.
A triumph in Brazil would push Mirza further up the pedestal in her country, but she is also quick to dampen heightening expectations.

“People kind of expect that if you don’t have that medal, you’re depressed. It’s not like that,” Mirza said.

“The last time, I remember we played the Olympics and before people left the Olympic village we were already competing in another tournament.”

“That’s how a tennis player’s life really is. It would be amazing to win a medal and I’ll do whatever I can, but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.”

Mirza also said it is still to early to say whether Leander Paes — who won singles bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Games — or Rohan Bopanna would get the nod for mixed doubles, India’s best chance of success.

“Rohan’s been playing really well obviously and Leander’s won some mixed (doubles) this year,” she stated.

“In a tennis player’s life, eight months is a long time so we’ll just take a call closer to the event. All I can say is that hopefully the best team will be put forward.”

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