"I still have nightmares" — Sania Mirza recalls her Rio heartbreak
Missing out narrowly on a medal for India at the Rio Olympics along with Rohan Bopanna, Sania Mirza confessed that she still has not gotten over the lost opportunity and gets nightmares about it.
India's lone medal in Olympic tennis goes back to 1996 Atlanta when Leander Paes performed a miraculous act powered by his raging form to bag the first and only medal for India in tennis - a bronze from the Men's Singles. Five years since that day when Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna almost laid their hands on a second medal for India, Sania said the loss still hurts her and remains a source of nightmares.
Addressing an audience virtually for the Bangalore Literature Festival, Mirza candidly mentioned, "I am still unable to get over it and have nightmares. I suddenly wake up from sleep and have tears in my eyes. Coming that close and still being unable to get it was quite heartbreaking," as TOI reported.
Flash forward two decades from Leander's historic medal, seasoned Mixed Doubles pair of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna also stood dangerously near to medalling with a bronze, at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The stage was set for it and all it came down to the gamble of a few points going here and there as the duo of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna contested a two-set thriller against Radek Stepanek and Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic who won, 1-6, 6-7, handing the Indian pair quite the crushing defeat.
That year, both Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna were enjoying good form as they even took out the British pair of Andy Murray and Heather Watson in the quarter-finals. However, in the semi-finals, Mirza and Bopanna were thrown the challenge of handling Venus Williams and Rajeev Ram and that resulted in a tense three-setter match that went to the Americans ultimately.
Mirza, who was the top-ranked doubles player at that time was one to watch out for and the loss against the Czech pair of Stepanek-Hradecka in the bronze medal play-off, left Mirza and Rohan Bopanna as well, feeling very mentally fatigued.
"After the match, we were on a one-hour bus journey to the airport and did not say a word. There was nothing to say," Mirza recalled the moments that still pinch her. Mirza also mentioned, "It was the first time I saw Rohan in tears," revealing simply how much that loss meant to them and how much it hurt them.
Back then, Mirza was left so heartbroken that she wasn't sure if she can compete at the Tokyo Olympics but as fate would have it, Mirza became the first woman athlete to participate in 4 Olympics when she qualified for the Tokyo Games in the Women's Doubles, where she partnered Ankita Raina.
In the Mixed Doubles, Mirza could not participate because none of the male players could qualify for it on time, further vanquishing any, whatsoever chances of winning a medal there.