September 29, 2020
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'Rankings Not A Reflection Of Standards'

'When I was ranked 31 in 2005, I was probably playing top-70 tennis. I have now worked hard on some of my weaknesses and feel that my current ranking (of 31) is a better reflection of my level of tennis.'

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'Rankings Not A Reflection Of Standards'
'Rankings Not A Reflection Of Standards'

Sania Mirza is on the cusp of rewriting tennis records once again after reaching 31 in world rankings.

The 20-year-old Indian jumped four places after making her third final appearance at Stanford, USA, on July 29 to get back to her career-best ranking that she had attained two years ago.

Sania lost the summit clash of the $600,000 WTA Tour event 6-3 6-2 to Anna Chakvetadze, her third loss in as many matches to the Russian world no. 6, but the performance put her one step closer to breaking into the top-30.

The Hyderabad-born breaching that barrier will end a 20-year drought in Indian tennis.

After Ramesh Krishnan who was ranked 23 in June 1987, no Indian player has been in the top-30 so far.

Sania said her current ranking position reflected her playing standards more accurately than the 31 she had touched in 2005.

"Rankings are an indication of where you stand in the world. They are not necessarily a fool proof accurate reflection of one's standing in relation to the rest of the players," Sania said from Stanford.

"I think when I was ranked 31 in 2005, I was lucky to be there due to a few good wins and a couple of good draws. I was probably playing top-70 tennis then.

"I have now worked hard on some of my weaknesses and feel that my current ranking is a better reflection of my level of tennis."

Being in the top-32 will also get her seeded at the Grand Slams. But Sania did not want to get carried away by the hype about her ranking.

"It will be more of a personal achievement if I break into the top-30," she said.

"As long as I keep improving and play good tennis, I feel that in the long run, the rankings will take care of themselves."

Sania also has been doing well in doubles, winning the title at Stanford with Shahar Peer of Israel by beating Chakvetadze and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-4 7-6 (5).

It was her second title in as many weeks and pushed her doubles rankings by 10 places to 26.

Her father Imran Mirza warned that Sania had a tough task preserving her ranking in the lead up to the US Open, starting on August 27, as she has valuable points to defend in the coming weeks.

"I don't encourage her to pay too much attention to these things. As a matter of fact, I will be delighted if she can maintain her rank until the US Open draws because then she can be seeded," Imran said.

"However, she is losing 42 points next week and then 24 during the Forest Hills week. So, hopefully, she will defend these points and retain her ranking of under 32."

Sania will be playing the $1.3 million Acura Classic in San Diego this week and she has been drawn to play her doubles partner and world no 18 Shahar Peer of Israel.

She is then expected to play in Los Angeles ($600,000 prize money) and Toronto ($1.3 million) the following weeks.

But she has entered a $600,000 event in New Haven instead of the $75,000 Forest Hills the week before the year's final Grand Slam.

Imran said his daughter's stupendous success in recent weeks was fast forcing him to rework the strategy and scheduling for her.

"She is fast graduating past the Tier V, IV and III levels of WTA. It is now possible to play more and more Tier II and Tier I events," he said.

One major reason behind her recent success, particularly her quick recovery from a serious ligament injury in March, has been her improved level of fitness.

True, she admitted to fatigue while playing Chakvetadze in the Stanford final, and there is still room for improvement on the fitness front.

After all, the Russian, like China's Jie Zheng in the Doha Asian Games final in December, beat Sania when she was playing at her best.

But Sania refused to read too much into her losses.


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