Sania Mirza had taken a two-year break from competitive tennis in order to raise a family. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
In a dream start to her second innings after a two-year break, Sania Mirza lifted the WTA Hobart International trophy with partner Nadiia Kichenok after edging out Shaui Peng and Shuai Zhang in the final in Hobart on Saturday. The unseeded Indo-Ukrainian pair pipped the second seed Chinese team 6-4 6-4 in one hour 21 minutes. Playing her first tournament after giving birth to son Izhaan, the 33-year-old Sania has begun well in the Olympic year as she warmed up for the Australian Open in style. It is Sania's 42nd WTA doubles title and first since Brisbane International trophy in 2007 with American partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Sania did not compete on the WTA circuit in the entire 2018 and 2019 seasons to start a family with Pakistani cricketer husband Shoaib Malik.
Sania and Nadiia began by breaking the Chinese players in the very first game of the match but only to drop serve in the next. The two pairs played close games towards the end and at 4-4, 40-all, Sania and Nadiia got the crucial break, earning the opportunity to serve out the set. There was no twist in 10th game with Sania and Nadiia comfortably pocketing the first set.
Sania Mirza had won six doubles Grand Slam titles -- including three mixed -- achieved the number one rank before the break. (Image credit: Getty Images)
The second set could not have started better for them as they broke the Chinese rivals to take early lead and consolidated the break with an easy hold. The game of the Chinese was falling apart as they dropped serve again in the third but broke back immediately to repair some damage. Sania and Nadiia were now feeling the heat at 0-30 in the sixth game but Peng and Zhang let them hold serve for a 4-2 lead. The Chinese though kept fighting and made it 4-4 with another break in the eighth game. The Indo-Ukraine team raised its game when it mattered as it broke Peng and Zhang for one final time in the ninth and served out the match in the next game. Sania and Nadiia split USD 13580 as prize money and eared 280 ranking points each for their winning effort.
Sania believes she has achieved everything in her path-breaking career and has "nothing to prove" in her second innings, which is likely to begin by January 2020. In her quest to make a comeback to competitive tennis after more than two years after becoming a mother, the 32-year-old Sania is training vigorously for about four hours a day and has shed 26 kilos in the process.
Before taking leave from the circuit to start a family, Sania won six doubles Grand Slam titles -- including three mixed -- achieved the number one rank, won medals at multi-disciplinary events apart from laying hands on a year-end WTA Finale title with Swiss great Martina Hingis.
"In my career, I have achieved everything which I could have dreamt of. And whatever happens next will be a bonus for me. I thought I will be able to comeback by August but probably by January, it looks like a possibility. Having (son) Izhan is the biggest blessing I could have. If I am able to come back, it will be amazing. He's (son) my inspiration to get back to being fit. If I do comeback, it will not be to prove anything. The only reason to comeback would be that I love playing and competing," Sania said.