Sania Mirza is finding Dubai to be a home away from home. The other day she was training on the courts of an academy housed in a star hotel in the UAE metropolis when the temperature touched 41 degrees Celsius at 9.30 in the morning. By afternoon she got to hear that it was 45 degrees in Hyderabad. Just like at home, a few heads — mainly from Pakistanis and Indians — turn in her direction as she begins sparring with her hitting partner, Zeeshan Ali, the former India player.
“The last three weeks have been good with regard to training,” Sania told The Indian Express on Wednesday, while talking about her injured wrist that has kept her out of action since February. “My wrist has bothered me for the last two years. It is a chronic wrist injury but at the moment it is not hurting. I have been training in Dubai for the past nine days and it feels good,” Sania said.
Sania and her husband, Pakistan batsman, Shoaib Malik are busy setting up their house in Dubai. The couple whose marriage attracted controversy are now happy that the hullabaloo surrounding them has died down. Dubai is a neutral venue for both of them.
“Whatever happened just before our wedding was disturbing and difficult for both of us and for the families. When it was all over, I said to Shoaib ‘we have come through this. I think we can come through more things in my life rather easily now’. We both faced what people never face in their lives probably. We were not even married when all the controversy happened. It is great to be together. After all that happened, we are both back to being happy again and that really counts.”
Sania believes not much has changed since the wedding. “I have to get used to sharing my bathroom and bedroom,” she said jokingly. “Shoaib and I have been working out together. We play sports in which we have to be lean but also strong. It helps that we are from sporting backgrounds,” Sania added.
“Just yesterday, when we were watching a movie, we were telling each other that we can’t believe we are married. One good thing is that we never fight over watching soap operas or serial. I am not the ‘girly’ types so I watch sport and so does he.”
Good news came in the form of Malik’s name being in the probables list for the Asia Cup. The former Pakistan skipper is undergoing a one-year ban for ‘indiscipline’. “I have heard that things can change overnight in Pakistan cricket. I never used to follow Pakistan cricket earlier but now I do. Shoaib didn’t follow too much of women’s tennis but now he has no choice.”
Sania will kick-start her return with the event in Birmingham before heading to Wimbledon. “I didn’t take time off because I was getting married. I got married because I had time on my side due to my wrist injury. Somehow, people don’t understand that. Everyone goes through rough patches and Shoaib himself has had a roller-coaster year. He understands what it means to make a comeback after an injury.
“Grass is the most difficult surface to make a comeback, especially after a wrist injury, as the surface is uneven and one has to make lot of adjustments with the wrist. If I had a choice I would have made a comeback on a hard court. But that said I have played well on grass.”
Ranked 91 in singles and 75 in doubles, Sania knows that she’ll realise how match fit she is only after playing a couple of games. “I am not going in hoping to make the quarterfinal of Wimbledon. It is not going to be that easy. It doesn’t work like that. I want to get on court and play a few matches. And then we will see.”