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Sania Mirza in no hurry to prove herself
Simon Cambers | January 08, 2008 09:39 IST
The eyes of a sporting nation will again be upon her at next week's Australian Open but Mirza believes her relaxed nature, as much as her ability, will be a key factor in helping her to have a strong run at Melbourne Park.
Having broken into the top 30 last year, Mirza, one of the hardest hitters on the women's tour, has been tipped as one of the players to watch in 2008.
However, she said she was in no hurry to prove herself.
"It's getting better, and it will come -- if not next week then by Melbourne and if not by Melbourne then in Fed Cup," the world number 31 told Reuters in an interview.
"I am obviously not completely happy because I still feel like I have a few things to improve, but it's coming together."
Mirza missed two months in early 2007 after knee surgery and struggled with right wrist and abdominal injuries late last year, causing an early end to her season.
Staying fit, Mirza said, was her immediate priority.
"At this point I would just like to stay healthy. Last year I said I wanted to be top 30, I said it to myself -- I didn't really tell anyone else.
"When I did get injured, it seemed like everything was going out the window, I really don't want to look too far ahead of myself."
Mirza suffered from soreness in her first outing of the year, at the Hopman Cup in Perth, and admitted that every time she feels some pain, she worries it might be a long-term injury.
"You don't freak out but it is a bit concerning," she said. "But you just have to live with the injuries, it's part of sport. You just have to keep taking care of yourself but I think it's only early season soreness."
Mirza's best grand-slam showing was a fourth round appearance at the U.S. Open in 2005 and she has never been beyond round three in three visits to Melbourne Park.
"Most probably I will be seeded, which is a good thing. You don't meet one of the big players in the first or second rounds which is obviously good," she said.
To achieve a place in the top 20, though, Mirza said she would need to become more consistent.
"Every step (in the rankings) gets bigger," she said.
"Not in terms of just playing, it's not about the way you play because anyone can beat anyone in the men's game or in the women's. It's really not about the ranking, it's about consistency and being able to do it over and over again, week in, week out."
Mirza's popularity in India rivals that of the country's revered cricketers, who are currently touring Australia.
The 21-year-old was raised in Hyderabad, the same city as the likes of batsman Vangipurappu Laxman, but she said that she and the cricketers did not compare notes on dealing with expectations.
"You're a sportsman, so you almost have this respect for each other, naturally, and you kind of know what each other's going through," she said.
"But we meet like two normal people. We don't say, 'what's the pressure like for you?'. I always say they are 11 and I am one, they can always blame the other person."
Mirza will continue her preparations for the Australian Open in this week's WTA event in Hobart.
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)