Sania Mirza and Saina Nehwal – A tale of two Indian Women 

Pavan Suresh / 10 April 2015

In the current sports environment World Ranking is recognition of a player’s consistent performance. Indian Tennis and Badminton have produced a few to get this recognition in recent times. Reaching top ten, then top 3 and finally Top most place is every player’s dream. Reaching there is difficult but retaining is more challenging in the competitive sports. I take stock of two Indian women one who reached Top Saina Nehwal in Badminton and another hoping to reach soon – Sania Mirza (who is no.3 ranked in doubles) Tennis during 2015. There is a glaring contrast though; Saina excelled in Singles and Sania world rank no- 3 with Ms Hingis is likely to reach at the doubles top ranking in Tennis soon. In badminton we have 3 Indians figure in Top 10. Saina at no 2, PV Sindhu at no 9 and K Shrikanth at no 4 in men’s Badminton Ranking as on 9 April 2015. The opposite is also true that India does not have international level good singles Tennis player and doubles pair in Badminton as there are no Indians in the top-25 of singles in Tennis and doubles rankings in Badminton.

Saina Nehwal ranked number 1 in the world last week – in the first week of April 2015 but soon after Malaysia tournament she lost number 1 when she lost to Carolina Marin of Spain. Saina Nehwal won the 2015 Indian Open Grand Prix Gold  by defeating Spainiard 19-21, 25-23, 21-16 in the Final. She became the first Indian woman in shuttle sport to reach the finals of All England Badminton Championship , but lost to Carolina Marin 21-16, 14-21, 7-21 in the final. On 29 March 2015, Saina won her maiden women’s singles title at the Indian Open BWF Super Series beating Rachtnok Inatnon  of Thailand. This assured her of becoming World number 1 when the latest BWF rankings  are released on April 2nd. Saina Nehwal dropped to No.2 in the lastest Badminton World Federation (BWF) rankings on 9 April as reigning Olympic champion Li Xuerui re-took the top spot. She skipped the ongoing Singapore Open to give herself a break, which might delay her coming to top again.

Saina is the first Indian to win a medal in Badminton at the Olympics, by winning the Bronze medal at the London Olympics on 4 August 2012. She is also the first Indian after Prakash Padukone and the first Indian woman to become world number 1. Besides these, she was the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championship and was also the first Indian to win a Super Series tournament, by clinching the Indonesian Open on 21 June 2009. Saina was initially coached by S.M. Arif a Dronacharya Award winner, and then by Pullela Gopichand till 2014 September, but is currently coached by the former Indian badminton champion and national coach U. Vimal Kumar

On the other hand Sania Mirza, who is paired with Martina Hingis, reached her top ranking and No 3 in World Women’s tennis ranking on 23 March 2015. Just yesterday (9th April 2015) Sania Mirza and Martina Higinis kept their perfect start going on Wednesday night, beating the Rodionova sisters in their opening match at the Family Circle Cup, 6-7(7), 6-3, 10-5 in Charleston, SC, USA . If this pair wins the Family Circle cup title Sania Mirza will become new world number 1 in doubles. 

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