Sania has been inspirational: Mahesh Bhupathi

The Asian Age Staff  | Flavia Agnes

Sports, Tennis

Twelve-time Grand Slam winner Mahesh Bhupathi on Tuesday termed former mixed doubles partner Sania Mirza an inspiration.

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Twelve-time Grand Slam winner Mahesh Bhupathi on Tuesday termed former mixed doubles partner Sania Mirza an inspiration.

Bhupathi who won the Australian Open (2009) and French Open (2012) titles with the current world no. 1 women’s doubles player predicted that Sania would win more titles with her Swiss partner Martina Hingis.

The Indo-Swiss duo capped a sensational year by clinching the $7 million WTA Finals in Singapore recently. This was their ninth title of the year that included two Grand Slam wins.

“Inspirational. She has really worked hard over the last three years, not only this year. She is putting herself in a position to win matches,” Bhupathi said at the unveiling of the second set of tickets sales and announcing 108 corporate boxes for the International Premier Tennis League Season 2 here on Tuesday.

“She has also found someone in Martina who can complement her very well. They are going to continue winning Grand Slams for the next few years,” added Bhupathi, who completed the mixed doubles career Grand Slam in 2006 by winning the Australian Open with Hingis.

With the form she is in, Sania will be a strong medal hope for India in the Rio Olympics next year. But Bhupathi felt India had great chance in the men’s doubles as well.

“Alongside mixed doubles, in men’s doubles also we have a good chance. Both Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes are world class players,” the 41-year-old said.

IPTL-2 kicks off on December 2 with the newly introduced Japan leg, followed by stops in Manila, New Delhi, Dubai and Singapore all the way to December 20.

Bhupathi who is the founder and managing director of IPTL was excited at the prospect of a Rafael Nadal versus Roger Federer clash in New Delhi slated for December 12.

“It is great to have Nadal on board. He’s one of the biggest men’s stars in tennis. I am very excited about Rafa-Federer match-up.”

While praising youngsters like Yuki Bhambri, Sumit Nagal and Karman Kaur Thandi, Bhupathi said it would be difficult to include talented Indian players in IPTL.

“This is not an Indian league. Teams are from Japan, UAE, Singapore, Manila and India. India is fortunate to have many players involved. Singapore does not have one, UAE does not have one, Manila has one doubles players. It’s an Asian property. We have to look at top quality as IPTL is broadcast across 154 countries,” he reasoned.

A final also has been introduced this year. “The last two league matches became inconsequential in Dubai (in 2014). This year the top two teams play the final on December 20,” he said. IPTL venue could be shifted next year Indian Aces co-owner Gulshan Jhurani revealed the IPTL venue could be shifted from New Delhi to Mumbai next year.

“We got a great response from Delhi in the inaugural season, But to make IPTL popular in the country we would like to shift it till as many cities as possible,” he said.

“We had many people travelling from Mumbai to Delhi last year and we are keen to do it here. But the only indoor stadium option for us in Mumbai is NSCI, which has less capacity. It is acting as a deterrent at the moment though we could counter that by an increase in ticket prices. We are looking at other cities also like Kolkata, Bengaluru and Chennai, taking into cognisance their infrastructure and logistics.”

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