In her quest to win a third Grand Slam title, Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza will continue to partner Romanian Horia Tecau in the mixed doubles until at least next season's first Grand Slam -- the Australian Open.
Sania and Tecau had joined forces this season for the Wimbledon championship, where they made quarter-finals and also played together at the US Open, making the third round.
Sania confirmed that she will play with Tecau, world number 23 in doubles, at the Australian Open.
"We had committed to play three tournaments, so we are playing the Australian Open together," Sania said.
Sania backed her partnership with the Romanian, who touched a career-high rank of five in 2012 but is now placed 23rd in the doubles.
"He plays backhand side and has a very big serve. He is one of the best doubles player in the world. He volleys very well and has a very good return," she said.
"In one of the Australian Opens we had lost to them in the semi-finals, I think two years ago in 2012," she added, referring to her 3-6, 3-6 defeat alongside Mahesh Bhupathi against Tecau and American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
However, Sania made it clear that this partnership was only for the Australian Open and anything beyond that will be decided later.
"Right now, we are only committed to play in Australian Open, I cannot comment about other tournaments," she said when asked if the French Open is their best chance since the Romanian players are very good on clay courts.
Both of Sania's Grand Slam titles have come with compatriot Bhupathi. However, after the controversy on the players' pairing for the London Olympics, Sania and Bhupathi did not play together.
Asked if there was any specific reason why she was not playing with any Indian player, she replied, "No specific reason not to play, it just did not happen. I have played with Rohan before as well. This time, I was already committed."
Leander Paes is the highest-ranked Indian among men's players at number 10 while Rohan Bopanna is 13th. Bopanna had touched a career-high third early this season.
After finishing the 2013 year at number nine in the world, Sania is the highest-ranked Indian (men or women) in the year-end rankings.
Sania said there was no reason to believe that why she can't win a title with Tecau.
"We enter every tournament to win. We have to try and take one match at a time but obviously we have to try and win the tournament," she said.
Sania has organised a one-month camp with an Australian physical trainer at her academy. Some top Indian players, including Somdev Devvarman, Bopanna, Saketh Myneni, Sanam Singh, Jeevan Nedunchezhian, N Sriran Balaji will practice for a few days at SMTA.
Sania will practice with them and her women's doubles partner Cara Black from Zimbabwe. Black will be at SMTA for two weeks for next season's preparation.
"It's going very good. We have eight hours day and six hours are devoted to training. We started more than a week ago. It's been really good. Just trying to get ready. Before the next season starts, we have a good one and a half month, looking forward to that," she said.
Image: Sania Mirza
Photograph: Yuya Shino/Reuters