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03 December 2023

Beaten Mirza eyes Olympic gold in London

India's Sania Mirza hits a return to Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria during their women's singles match at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Monday. (REUTERS)


India's Sania Mirza on Monday said a gold medal at the London Olympics is her primary focus for 2012 as she makes a comeback from yet another serious injury.

Mirza did not play in 2011 following the US Open after sustaining a knee injury, only returning to the court in Auckland two weeks ago.

It was just the latest in a string of injuries to have plagued the 25-year-old, including a chronic wrist problem that saw her miss large parts of 2008, 2009 and 2010.

The world number 106 lost in qualifying in Auckland and failed again in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday, going down 6-4, 6-2 to Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova.

But Mirza, who was once ranked 27th in the world, was anything but downcast and said her main goal was the mixed doubles in London in July.

"It was my second singles match in the last five months - obviously I'm always coming back from a surgery process, and I'm on that again and it's never easy," she said.

"Of course I'm disappointed but I will try to take as many positives as I can."

"Not a lot of people know but I have extra-lax joints and I am double-jointed, because of which I'm more prone to getting injured in my joints, and hence that's what's happened," she added.

"I've had two knee surgeries and a wrist surgery - it's not easy."

Mirza said she would be focusing on mixed doubles at the Olympics and would be paired with either Mahesh Bhupathi, Leander Paes or Rohan Bopanna.

"A medal's a medal at the Olympics and it doesn't matter whether you get it in singles, doubles or mixed," she said.

"The fact that even though a lot of people say maybe it's not a top priority, people are still going to play and they're going to play to win a medal.

"I'm in a great position to choose from three people are in the top 12 in the world (in doubles) and obviously the best team will be put forward."

Mirza said she would have no say in who her partner will be in London, although she hinted she would prefer Bhupathi, with whom she won the Australian Open in 2009.

"Me and Mahesh have won the Australian Open once and played the final once and we play well together but... anything can happen (between now and London) but we're obviously going to try and get a medal in whatever we can.

"India is a big country and the Olympics is very important to us."


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