Bangalore : Indian tennis legend Vijay Amritraj Thursday asserted tennis sensation Sania Mirza has the potential to be in the top 10 rankings among international women players.
“She (Sania) certainly has the potential to be in the top 10. How soon? This year? Next Year? Or year after… is immaterial. What is important is she keeps winning, remains consistent and fit,” Amritraj told reporters on the sidelines of a tennis event here.
Referring to her dramatic victory (6-2, 2-6, 6-4) over top-seeded Martina Hingis in the Los Angeles Classic Tuesday to enter the quarter-finals, he said Sania needed more such wins to boost her confidence and maintain the rhythm.
“She has the ability to move up the ladder. She is a terrific player. She is fitter and more athletic. She has all the elements to make it into the top 10. I think she is on the right track,” Amritraj said after launching the Good Earth Super Series junior tennis tournament for promoting the sport in the 10-16 age group.
Admitting that women’s tennis too has become as competitive men’s, Amritraj said Sania should focus more on staying fit and remaining healthy to cope with punishing schedules and travel.
“Women tennis in this generation is as different from our generation as day is from night. The game has become more competitive. There is more money. It is getting tougher at the entry level with more and more girls getting into big tournaments.”
As in the case of some other games where burnout is faster, Amritraj said tennis in the 21st century had become a sprint and was no longer a marathon when legends such as Martina Navratilova could maintain a winning streak for over a decade.
“Tennis has become a short-term game. With more and more girls or women playing round the year, the game throws up new champions. It is no more about physical stamina but a mental framework. The game is played as much in the mind as on the court,” he pointed out.
On Sania’s turnaround this year with a series of wins, especially in the US, Amritraj said her passion and dedication for the game made her overcome losses, lack of form and injuries, which augured well for her future.
“Her turnaround has got to do a lot with self-belief in improving and winning. She needs to be a bit consistent. The fitness level is also equally important considering the number of tournaments she has been playing through the year. It does not matter at what rank she is and how many games she lost. My advice to her is she should keep doing what she is best at.”
Asked whether playing in doubles had helped her in reducing unforced errors and inconsistency in returning serve, Amritraj said it was doubles that had given her the ability to play singles better.
“Even if she loses singles but wins doubles, it will give her a great amount of confidence to play the right shots, be it a volley or return. Playing in both will help her sharpen reflexes to react or respond quickly and minimise errors.”
At the same time, Amritraj cautioned Sania against playing too much tennis without a break, leading to abuse of her body.
“She needs to take time off from the heavy schedules involving a lot of travelling, training, games and related activities. She has to regulate her participation to maintain fitness and remain consistent.”