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French Open win a confidence booster ahead of Olympics: Bhupathi

India’s tennis ace Mahesh Bhupathi has won numerous Grand Slam titles in the past — 12 to be precise — but Thursday’s French Open mixed doubles title with compatriot Sania Mirza is ‘most special’, he says. Firstly, because it’s his first Slam after the birth of his daughter, Saira. Secondly, the win is timely given the upcoming season on grass that includes the all-important London Olympics next month. Bhupathi spoke to MiD DAY from Paris a day after the win.


India’s Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza celebrate their French Open mixed doubles title win. Pic/Getty Images

Excerpts:

On their not-too-well-known opponents in the final — Santiago Gonzalez and Klaudia Jans-Ignacik...
I’ve played Gonzalez a few times in doubles before and Sania has played Klaudia in the past too. So, we had studied their game and worked to a plan, which we pulled off well.

On the final encounter...
We broke them in the 10th game but had many opportunities before that being on 15-40 a couple of times. So, we knew we had to just hang in there as the opportunities would coming. As soon as we broke them, the momentum swung our way. Then, they were down having just lost a great opportunity to win the first set (being 5-3 up). We took full advantage of that.

On this title vis-a-vis the 2009 mixed doubles Aus Open title also won with Sania...
This one has to be most special considering this is not Sania’s favourite surface and to do it without losing a set en route is a great achievement. It shows that we’ve really played well. So this one’s right up there. So it's definitely one of the better ones. Besides, it’s been one helluva year for me both on the personal as well as professional front... it’s been exciting.

On his first phone call after the win...
That had to be to my wife Lara (Dutta) back home (with their baby, Saira, born in January this year)

On the significance of this win considering the London Olympics is close at hand...
This win definitely feels good because you can take this confidence and go to grass (Wimbledon, June 25-July 8) followed by the Olympics on grass which I’m eagerly looking forward too.

On partnering Sania Mirza’s versatility...
I definitely enjoy playing with Sania as we compliment each other well. For someone to come back after three surgeries, and to continue to play well at this level, you must give her full credit. She is now deservingly a multiple Grand Slam champion. 

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