Shot in the arm for embattled Sania

With a second Slam in her kitty, the Indian hopes for Olympics spot

Sania Mirza's fate of playing in the London Olympics depends on a wild card as she failed to make the cut directly but the French Open mixed doubles title with good friend and compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi may have come just at the right time.

It has assuaged the pain of her early ouster in the doubles and she is now looking to replicate her success in the coming events.

The 25-year-old had gone on record to say how frequent injuries had left her feeling much older. Her second Grand Slam title, this time on her least preferred surface, has made the victory taste even sweeter.

"A Grand Slam title is what we tennis players live for and it is a great thrill to win one,” Sania said after her maiden French Open title triumph. “Mahesh is equally thrilled at winning his 12th title. As for me, it is even more special because there have been several moments in the last five years in which I've undergone three surgeries, when I felt I might never be able to play tennis again. I'm looking forward to more successes!”

Sania was all praise for Bhupathi, with whom she won the Australian Open in 2009, her first Grand Slam. “Mahesh’s backhand returns and net game are world-class. He's also a very close friend and we have a great chemistry on court, lifting each other's spirits and game when the chips are down.

 “We have combined brilliantly on court and it is showing in the results. The opponents made a strong start in the final but once we started asserting ourselves, we looked the stronger team and deserved to win the title,” she said on their 7-6 (3), 6-1 victory over Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Klaudia Jans-Ignacik of Poland in the final on Friday.

Her first round exit in French Open women's doubles with American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, after winning the title at Brussels, had come as a rude shock to her direct Olympic qualification but she remains hopeful of getting a wildcard. 

"Any loss is disappointing, especially at a Grand Slam but I'm glad I was able to put it behind me and came up with a title with Mahesh. It is a big achievement. We are a tough team to beat. I am hopeful that I will get a wildcard,” she said.

 Her cricketer husband Shoaib Malik followed her match on television and was “thrilled” at her victory. "He feels proud of my achievements. He's a professional sportsman himself and fully understands the value of this victory,” she said.

Sania now flies to Birmingham for the grass court events while Bhupathi will play at the Queens.

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