She and Rohan Bopanna also recalled partnering with each other over the years.

India’s legendary tennis pair Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna entered the finals of the season’s first Grand Slam, Australian Open 2023, defeating American-British duo Desirae Krawczyk and British Neal Skupski in the mixed doubles semi-final on Wednesday. Mirza, who is playing the last grand slam of her career, now has another opportunity to add to her six Grand Slam titles.

The hard-fought match ended 7-6(7-5), 6-7(5-7), and 10-6 as the Mirza/Bopanna partnership pipped third-seeded Neal Skupski and Desirae Krawczyk. The US/UK duo are two-time Wimbledon champions while Mirza also has clinched the Aus Open twice, in 2009 and 2016.

The two teams squared up in the opening set at Melbourne Park’s Margaret Court Arena, with neither pair dropping a single serve. Finally, Mirza and Bopanna took the lead after outlasting their rivals 7-5 in the tie-breaker. Following their victory, Mirza and Bopanna shared their thoughts on the road to the mixed doubles final and more in a conversation with Sony Sports Network.

Sania Mirza-Rohan Bopanna post-match interview

Reaching the final

“I’m not a crier but I’m almost there right now. I feel the love for the last 18 years I have been coming here. It feels like home for me, I have a family here, I eat at home and I have so many Indians supporting me,” said Sania. They will face the Brazilian pair of Luisa Stefani and Rafael Matos as their final hurdle. 

Rohan Bopanna echoed Mirza and said “As Sania mentioned it was a tough team we were playing against. It is not easy to keep the momentum going having lost that second set, but we stayed strong and got an early lead and gave us that momentum.” Bopanna, whose only mixed doubles slam came at Roland Garros in 2017, emphasised on the importance of tie breaks during the match.

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Pairing up with Rohan Bopanna

Mirza rolled back the days as she spoke about their first partnership together. She said, “It was an amazing match, there was a lot of nerves. It’s my last slam and it’s so special to play with Rohan. He was my first mixed doubles partner when I was 14 and he was 20. Today I’m 36 and he is 42 and we are still playing. We have a solid relationship.”

Bopanna also added, “Really happy to be sharing the court with Sania. (It’s an) incredible journey, inspiring everyone back home and today so many fans here.”

After defeating Australia’s Jaimee Fourlis and Luke Saville in their opening round, Sania and Bopanna beat Ninomiya of Japan and Ariel Behar of Uruguay in the second round. Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia and David Vega Hernandez of Spain gave them a walkover in the quarter-finals.

Why winning the title will be special?

Sania Mirza is slated to retire after the WTA tournament in Dubai to be held in February. She won down under for the first time in 2009 with Mahesh Bhupati and then again in 2016 with Martina Hingis. Sania would love to set a great example for the next generation by winning the championship for her country.

She signed off, “One more to go. It would be an absolute dream (Sania winning the title), can’t get better than that. It will be special and we need it in India, keep inspiring everyone back there is the only way to keep it going.”

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