“He is a freak, a genius. There is no comparison to what he does,” Mirza enthused.
Mirza has first hand experience of what it is like to play alongside the 20-time Grand Slam winner, having joined him, Pete Sampras and Ana Ivanovic as part of the Indian Aces squad in the inaugural International Premier Tennis League in 2014.
“I am lucky that I have already had the chance to play with my ideal mixed doubles partner, Roger Federer,” she added.
Apart from the Swiss legend, Sania Mirza picked USA’s Serena Williams to be her dream women’s doubles partner. “It would be amazing to play with Serena Williams. I have played against her before,” she said.
Sania’s Connect with Federer
Mirza shares a bond with Federer that goes beyond the court, and she has documented that in her autobiography as well.
In 2008, when Sania Mirza was accused of disrespecting the national flag, Roger Federer was among the first to enquire about her well-being after she had reached Melbourne for the Australian Open.
The other time was after the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.
“He [Federer] surprised me once with a message. He was concerned when Mumbai was tragically struck by terrorist attacks on November 26, 2008,” Sania Mirza wrote.
“I think this is what makes Roger very, very special. Apart from being a legend, a genius and the greatest ever exponent of his craft, he remains warm, caring, accessible, untouched by fame, and a thorough gentleman,” she revealed in the book titled Ace Against Odds.
Learning from the Singles Greats
Sania Mirza has not only looked up to singles greats throughout her career but has also been practicing like one. The 33-year-old revealed that she trains ‘like a singles player’ despite having retired from the format in 2013.
“Obviously, doubles is physically less demanding because you cover half the court but I could not reduce my sessions because of that,” Sania Mirza said.
“Also, I have to feel satisfied when I finish training, I want to feel like I have given my absolute best and go to bed really tired,” she added.
Interestingly, despite having played with Roger Federer and being privy to his unparalleled control over his craft, Sania Mirza picked Rafael Nadal’s tenacity as the one attribute she would borrow from another player.
“The raw, fighting spirit of Rafael Nadal is one trait I would like to have,” Mirza told Sunil Chhetri in a freewheeling Instagram Live chat. “I don’t show that much emotion, and he shows so much. The effort, where you feel like every point is the last point...” she explained.