AITA confident of getting Sania to play in Olympics


New Delhi: All India Tennis Association (AITA) secretary-general Anil Khanna is confident that a way could be found for Sania Mirza to play at the London Olympics if she is unable to hold on to the cut-off spot of No.10 that she is precariously perched at in the doubles rankings.


Khanna says Sania is too good a player to miss the Olympics and that he would do everything in his command to see her playing in London.


"We have time till June 14, the last date to submit the entries by name taking the June 11 rankings as cut-off. And if Sania does not make it on her own, we will seek a wild card for her," Khanna told IANS Wednesday.


After finalising the names, the ITF will issue the Olympic qualification list on June 28.


In recent years Sania has been the lone Indian entry in the singles at all the Grand Slam events and she deserves a wildcard seeing her record. She has a mixed doubles Grand Slam title with fellow-Indian Mahesh Bhupathi and she and her Russian partner Elena Vesnina were the doubles finalists at the French Open last year.


If only Sania had been able to defend her French Open doubles points this year she would have made the cut for the Olympics without any hassles. In fact, a month ago she was happily ranked No.8 in the doubles, but her troubles began once Vesnina chose to play with Russian Ekaterina Makarova to prepare for the Olympics.


This year, Sania and Vesnina won the title at Pataya, Thailand, entered the semifinals at the Australian Open and Auckland and the finals at Indian Wells and Dubai. In all, she won 13 WTA titles with eight different partners.


"Look at Sania's record, she deserves to be playing in the Olympics," Khanna said.


"Sania fully deserves to play in the Olympics after her impressive showing in doubles, even if she is a place or two off the qualification ranking. We would certainly try to get her a wild card and we hope we succeed in getting it," said Khanna.


India's hopes have in recent years rested on their doubles teams with Sania and Somdev Devvarman not being able to go far in singles. First it was Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi and they were joined by Rohan Bopanna. Sania had played mixed doubles with all three and did well.


She came to Paris in a happy frame of mind, having won the Brussels Open with her American partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands and it came as a big shock when the pair lost in the first round at Roland Garros.


Before Brussels, the Indian lost an opportunity to garner some more points at Stuttgart as her partner Italy's Flavia Pennetta pulled out with a wrist injury.


The ITF will select the mixed doubles teams for direct acceptance from entries from players accepted for the singles or men's and women's doubles events received from national associations no later than July 31, on the basis of their rankings on the cut-off date.


Sania will now play on grass-court circuit in the run-up to Wimbledon with Bethanie Mattek-Sands. (IANS)