New Delhi : Sania Mirza grabbed her third mixed doubles Grand Slam title and wrapped up her dream season with the year-end finale trophy even as India’s established male tennis players found the going tough in 2014. 28-year-old Sania, who has many firsts to her name, grew further in stature as she became the first Indian to win the season-ending finale, a feat which has eluded even old war-horse Leander Paes.
Sania won the US Open with first-time partner Bruno Soares and now has three mixed doubles Grand Slam trophies in her cabinet which already consists of Australian Open and French Open. With her consistent performance throughout the year, Sania made seven WTA finals and won three titles with Zimbabwean partner Cara Black, achieving a career-best world rank of number five.
Sania’s US Open title came after an unwarranted controversy created by a politician, who questioned her appointment as the Ambassador of the newly-created State of Telangana. The Hyderabadi broke down on TV, debating on the issue, but later answered in a befitting winner as she dedicated her US Open title to the people of Telangana.
She nearly courted another controversy after initially withdrawing her name from the national squad for the Asian Games but after being assured of a place in the WTA Finals, she decided to compete at the Incheon Games. Sania came out with a gold in the mixed doubles with Saketh Myneni and a bronze in women’s doubles with Prarthana Thombare in India’s five medal tally.
On the men’s side, it proved to be a very tough year for not only singles star Somdev Devvarman buy also for doubles specialists Paes and Rohan Bopanna, who suffered a significant drop in the rankings. Paes could win only one title in the season and after beginning the year inside top-10 he is now languishing at number 29, just ahead of Bopanna.
The Coorgi’s renewed partnership with Pakistani partner Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi also did not yield the desired results and they could win only one title this year apart from ending runners-up in two others. Bopanna had began the year at number 13 and ended at 30. However, the biggest disappointment was to see Somdev struggling. Supremely fit and extremely passionate, Somdev was nowhere close to his best. Crossing even the second rounds seemed a mountain to climb for him.