Anna Chakvetadze confesses to being sick of having to play Sania Mirza so often, but it is the Indian who is desperately in search of a route past the Russian. Her straight set loss in the third round of the US Open in New York—and her fourth defeat in as many meetings with Chakvetadze this year—stopped Sania Mania from breaching its banks, like two years ago when she made it to the fourth round. But, indicative of her growing maturity, Sania is not regarding this as the crowning disappointment of the year in which she has done enough to climb to a career-high rank of 27. She realises now, more than ever, that she can not only break into the top 20, but also enjoy a lengthy stay up there.
Sania reaped dividends in the hardcourt season for embracing a tough fitness regimen when recovering from knee surgery. Sania and her father Imran Mirza believe she would have broken into the top 30 four months earlier had it not been for the knee injury in March. "Any good fitness trainer could have helped her and (South African) Heath Matthews is good. But the big effort had to come from Sania and it's remarkable that she was able to put in that focused effort," Imran says. "Fitness is definitely very important in helping Sania reach this new level. Once she decides she wants something, Sania is willing to work her heart out to achieve that goal."