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June 20, 2005

Sania Mirza


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. The first set you played really well, came out fighting. The second set you sort of held back. What happened? What was going on in your head?

SANIA MIRZA: I think, you know, it's -- the person in front of me is also a player, so it really -- it doesn't mean that just because I am playing badly; there also could be a reason that she is playing well, and maybe that's why I lost. I can't exactly win every game that I play. But, I mean, I'm happy about the way I played. Maybe a bit patchy sometimes. But, you know, she played a great match and it could have gone any way till the end. You know, I expected a tough match, like I said to you yesterday, and, you know, I'm just glad that I came through.

Q. Were there any nerves?

SANIA MIRZA: Well, 8-6 in the third, you bet there were nerves (smiling). Well, yeah. But, you know, I guess whoever is mentally stronger and physically stronger at that point of time came through, and I guess today I was.

Q. Have you had much experience of playing on grass before?

SANIA MIRZA: Yeah, I played Juniors every time Wimbledon time. But we don't really have too many tournaments on grass other than just Wimbledon and a couple weeks before that.

Q. As a surface, I mean, it's not meant to be your favorite surface, but you seem to cope very well. Do you enjoy playing on grass?

SANIA MIRZA: Oh, yeah, I like playing on grass because it's a fast surface, and -- it's the fastest surface, and I like fast surfaces. I really like playing on grass. I mean, obviously I prefer hard to grass, but I would prefer grass to any other surface like clay or anything.

Q. What changes do you see in your game from January, that first week in the Australian Open when you won those three matches, a couple of matches, and then played Serena, and now in terms of improvements?

SANIA MIRZA: I think, first of all, I'm injury-free right now. I think, you know -- I had an ankle injury for the past four, five months. I think the main difference is that I'm injury-free. Secondly, because of that, I have got to work on my fitness, and that's just -- I think I'm much faster than what I was in January or February. I served all right today but, again, I'm still working on my serve. I think I'm more mature as a player, and, you know, before I guess I was, you know -- you kind of get used to the circuit and you know how to play who. You have to be a little -- I guess, you know, I wasn't really going for broke on every ball. You kind of have to build up the point, and I think that's what I've learned in these five, six months, how exactly to build up a point.

Q. The ankle, was it just a bad sprain? What was the problem?

SANIA MIRZA: Well, it was -- I twisted my ankle thrice in three months. So I was off for two months, and I started playing just before the French. After -- I played Miami, and then after that I was out for two months, I wasn't playing any tennis.

Q. Just a very bad sprain, is that what it was?

SANIA MIRZA: It was a very different kind of a thing. I had lost movement in my ankle and I couldn't move my ankle, so I was in a cast for a couple of weeks. I don't think it was a sprain. I think there was some kind of bruising on the bone, and there was excess fluid right near the joint.

Q. Extremely painful?

SANIA MIRZA: Yes (smiling). It was very painful. Especially when you tried to stop and come back to hit, you know, when you would take your side steps, oh, it was a killer.

Q. You talked about expectations the other day, a couple days back, the day before or whatever. How have you dealt with that over the last five or six months? Your life has changed in three or four months.

SANIA MIRZA: You just learn to deal with expectations.

Q. Does it faze you often, I mean, back in India?

SANIA MIRZA: It fazes me everywhere. You know, it's something that you cannot -- it's not in my control, what people expect from me. They probably expect a lot more than what I can actually do. But do I think it's fair, no, but there's not much I can do about it. I just, you know, as long as I'm going out there and giving my best. It wasn't that today at 6-All I was thinking, "Oh, people back home expect me to win this match." It was that I have to win it because I want to win it. Even if I would have lost the match, to be honest, I would have been equally satisfied because I gave my 120% out there and I knew that, you know, just it was just luck a bit here and there.

Q. Can you explain a little bit what life's like for you in India, how much attention you get.

SANIA MIRZA: It's a tough life. It's very busy. I don't know, it's very different, you know. People, I think they have not had a woman, you know, in something so big, and people are very excited. Suddenly, I don't know, the press -- there are a lot of things in India. When I go out, I need security, so... if I can put it that way.

Q. You and Sharapova, huh?

SANIA MIRZA: (Smiling).

Q. Your mobile doesn't stop ringing. How do you deal with it?

SANIA MIRZA: Oh, I changed my number, so I don't get any phone calls anymore (laughing).

Q. Has there been much reaction from young girls writing you in India or getting a hold of you?

SANIA MIRZA: Yeah, that's -- I think that's one thing that really satisfies me, that young girls -- I think I'm happier when young boys come up and say, "I want to be a tennis player," because in India, it's been a tradition that if you're a guy, you play cricket, you know. People don't even expect you to play any other sport. I like it when parents come up and say, "I want my son to be a tennis player," and, you know, do whatever. So it's really nice that people get inspired, and I just hope that we'll have many more tennis players from India coming up at this level.

Q. What do the girls say? What do the girls talk about?

SANIA MIRZA: They talk about everything, you know. I mean, they're little girls and they can get fascinated even by a nose ring or by (laughing)... So they, I guess, you know, they probably just -- they have been looking up to you for some time. People really want to take up tennis in India right now, which is really good, I guess, for Indian tennis.

Q. Can you talk about your next match. Is she the highest ranked player you played after Serena? Have you played anybody as --


Q. Top 5, outside of Serena Williams?

SANIA MIRZA: Not many -- too many higher.

Q. Right.

SANIA MIRZA: Yeah, she's the highest ranked player, yeah.

Q. You watch her play a lot? I mean, you know how she plays and stuff?

SANIA MIRZA: Well, I do know how she plays, yes. To be honest, I think we both play very similar games. We both hit the ball pretty hard. You know, I'm really looking forward for a match against Kuznetsova. Obviously, people back home, since I've beaten her once, expect me to win this also. But, you know, I have nothing to lose and, you know, it's Wimbledon. I'm in the second round. That was my aim, to clear the first round over here. Playing her, I'm really excited.

Q. Are you playing the doubles?

SANIA MIRZA: Yes, I am playing the doubles.

Q. With?

SANIA MIRZA: Chakvetadze.

Q. Have you had any more connection with Serena since your match? Have you talked to her at all?

SANIA MIRZA: When we see each other in the locker, yes, we do. Just a few words here and there.

Q. Say "hello"?

SANIA MIRZA: Yeah. Well, not really have a conversation with, but she's pretty nice.

End of FastScripts….

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