Seemed like ages since I’d followed any sporting action on TV. Happened to catch Sania Mirza in action against this year’s US open champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova, in her second round match at centre court, Wimbledon. It was a refreshing and welcome change from the fare dished out to the viewers on TV these days; the Jassis and the saas-bahu sagas have invariably become dinner-time companions for most middle class families.
The score read 6-6 in the second set with the tie-breaker in progress when I switched to Star Sports. The Russian had taken the first set at 6-4. As we watched, Sania rallied brilliantly to win the tie breaker. The third set being the decider was the most intriguing, with each player taking turns in breaking the other’s serve. Considering that it was a rather hot afternoon in England, both of them displayed amazing mental and physical fitness to raise their game to an all new level. Unfortunately, Sania couldn’t quite retain the momentum and finally lost the match at 4/6 7/6 4/6. Though she played some brilliant shots and it was a closely fought match, the Russian’s resilience and experience at having won a major tournament, paid off.
Watching this match also took me back in memory to my school days, when I used to follow these matches pretty regularly. I distinctly remember the French Open finals between Steffi Graf and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, must be in ’95 – ’96. The tie breaker in the final set then had stretched for around 21 games!! I remember I had to run an errand but couldn’t budge from in front of the TV till the match was won. It was a fantabulous display of stamina, gut, gumption and sporting spirit by the 2 yester-year stars. And what makes the memory sweeter is that Steffi, my all time favourite won the cup at 6/3 6/7 10/8 🙂
Getting back to the present, what was heartening about Wednesday’s match was the way Sania played. She showed the no.5 seed that she wasn’t going to have it easy, making her fight tooth and nail for every winner. If u’d watched the telecast u’d have seen that most of the crowd, in spite of there not being too many Indians, was rooting for the 18 year old. Her every winning shot was cheered and they despaired with her when she lost a point. This speaks a lot about the giant strides that Sania has taken at the international level in such a short time span and at such a young age.
She’s had some rave reviews from the media as well. As Alan Wilkins was heard saying, “I’ve never wanted any player to win a match, so badly, before!!” I’m sure, these words echoed the sentiments of the millions of viewers all around the world. Way to go, Sania!!