Sachin rues on missing chance to play Sania

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Kolkata, Sep 18: Sachin Tendulkar, who literally left his hand mark on the city, today said he was disappointed at not being able to play tennis sensation Sania Mirza.

After clobbering the bowlers round the globe for 18 years, Sachin will don in an unfamiliar role, but something closest to his heart, sporting a head-band and tennis racquet during a fun match at the Sunfeast Open.

He will be involved in a mixed doubles tie featuring Mahesh Bhupathi, Maria Kirilenko and another unnamed star.

Tennis has always been close to his heart and as a child he wanted to be a John McEnroe, sporting a headband so that people identified him with the left-handed American.

Sachin rued the fact that Sania would not be able to take court today in the mixed doubles fun match.

''She is a fine hitter of the ball. I often see how well and hard she hits. It's a lot faster when she hits on the court. It's a sad thing that she can't play today.'' Sachin was in the city to promote Sunfeast Open. At a media meet he put his hand imprint on a plaque that is going to be at the Avenue of Stars at Millennium park in the city. The park already has hand imprints of Martina Hingis, Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza.

''I have followed tennis very closely. Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi have always excited me. Now with Sania, my following of the sport has gone to another level,'' Sachin said, when asked if he followed tennis.

A big fan of Pete Sampras and Roger Federer, Sachin refused to decide a winner if the two were pitched on either side of the court.

''They are both great players and one has to lose in a match. I don't want to decide that. I would be enjoying that match for sure.

It will be wrong to compare one with the other,'' he added.

Sania Mirza at this point added, ''I am so biased. I would pick Roger Federer. He is a perfectionist. And in sports it's such a rare quality.'' Asked what she would have been, if she was not a tennis player, Sania said, ''I would have become a swimmer. And had I been a boy, I would surely have been a cricketer.'' Sania, who looked flushed with excitement, said, ''Sachin has always been my hero. In India, growing up and not loving cricket is impossible. It's no different for me. I have simply admired at the way he has played all these years and the way he has handled pressure.'' ''I mean people ask if Sachin should retire when he makes a 97.

They expect a 100 everytime he walks out. It's a great pleasure watching him play,'' she added.

Sachin, who plays all the racquet sports starting from table tennis to squash and tennis, believes that people should start promoting other sports too.

''People should start appreciating other sports too. If the film makers start making films on sports that has an appeal, then I'm sure there will be more,'' Sachin said.

This December another movie 'Goal de Dhana Dhan' on football is all set to be released in India.

On 'Chak de India' taking a dig at cricket, he said, ''I'm sure all that was in good humour. No one tried to bring cricket down. And I appreciate the efforts made.''

UNI

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