Remember, the pressure is on Latvia, Sania Mirza tells Team India | Tennis News – Eagles Vine

PUNE: Sania Mirza says Team India must not be overwhelmed by the reputation of their opponents and must “remember that the pressure is on them” when they take on Latvia in the Billie Jean King Cup playoff tie on Friday-Saturday.
“It is a great opportunity, especially for the younger girls. It is a historic tie as we have never been in this position before. It is going to give a lot of exposure and experience to these girls,” Sania told Eagles Vine from Jurmala, about 40 kms from national capital Riga.
“They are young and obviously willing, and excited to be here. They are gonna learn a lot from it, win or lose.”
Besides Sania, the Indian team consists of Ankita Raina, Karman Kaur Thandi, Rutuja Bhosale and Zeel Desai with Riya Bhatia as reserve and Vishaal Uppal as the captain.
The home team is spearheaded by 2017 French Open champion and world No. 52 Jelena Ostapenko and includes No 47 Anastasija Sevastova, No. 274 Diana Marcinkevica, No. 492 Daniela Vismane and 18-year-old rookie Patricija Spaka.
“Ostapenko is definitely one of the talented younger girls. She hits the ball really big. Probably where we can catch her is on the fact that probably she doesn’t move as well,” Sania said.
“But besides that, she has got an absolutely world class backhand. That’s her biggest strength. She is someone who has played at the big stages, used to play big matches.
“We are just going to have to play well. The girls have to put their head down and think of it as any other match and actually forget the situation, and enjoy the moment.
“They have to remember that the pressure is on them.”
The April 16-17 tie will also see the Indian women being involved in the home-and-away format for the first time, unlike the continental group stages which are played in a round-robin basis at neutral venues.
The winner of the tie advances to the World Group Qualifier in early 2022.
Sania said that although the change to playing an opponent at their home was a bit “confusing”, she was “ok with either way” and “just happy to be there”.
One thing, however, she would prefer to have been different was having the doubles match played between the two set of singles rubbers instead of it being played at the end.
“If it was upto me, I would definitely play the doubles after the first two singles matches. I think that way it can make a huge difference to the result of the tie,” she said.
“I don’t know how others feel about that, but I feel that should be the case because whether it is one-all or 2-0 on either side, doubles can make a difference.”
Sania played down the difficulty of being away from her two-year old son Izhaan while travelling to Latvia.
“Becoming a mother is the biggest blessing I have ever received, it is something I cannot compare with anything else. Having said that, while I play it is nothing different,” she said.
“Obviously it is nice when he is around me. But with the covid situation I had to leave him (behind in Dubai). I don’t wanna risk travelling with him.
“It is definitely not easy to leave your two-year-old behind. He is with his dad (Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik) right now, so he is fine.
“This is a one-off thing. Usually I do travel with him most places because that’s where I feel most comfortable both mentally as well as physically.”

The Times of India

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