Sania's decision leaves fans shell shocked

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{image-maniac sania_05022008.jpg}Hyderabad, Feb 5: Controversies seem to have forced Indian tennis icon Sania Mirza out of Bangalore Open. It is not the first time she is avoiding to play on home turf that give players advatage over other international players due to strong support of home crowd, in the past too she has shown reluctance to play in India

The 21-year-old has been criticised in the past by Islamist groups for wearing short skirts on court, and recently was taken to court after media photographs showed her bare feet resting near the national flag. Mirza, Asia's highest-ranked player at number 29, revealed before last month's Australian Open she had considered quitting the game because of the controversies.

Former Davis Cup player Vishal Uppal said he was surprised at Mirza's reason to avoid the Bangalore Open.
"She said she did it to avoid controversies, but I think she has created another controversy by opting out," said Uppal.
A tennis official, who declined to be named, said he suspected business rivalry may have played a role.

Mirza is managed by doubles specialist Mahesh Bhupathi's company Globosport, which runs the rival WTA Sunfest Open in Kolkata in September.
"It could be injury, a business decision or anything," the official said. "But it's a big loss for the Indian tennis fan."

Vijay Amritraj, former tennis player, said he was shocked at Mirza's decision.
"I am dumbfounded," he said. "She is such a fine player. She is the best not just at home but in the whole of Asia. In my time, to play in India was such a big thing."

Former Davis Cup coach Akhtar Ali said it was a "sad day for Indian tennis."

"That something like this should happen to a dedicated professional like Sania is extremely unfortunate," he said.

"She has become the victim of politics. She has done so much for this country, single-handedly catapulting ladies' tennis on to the world stage. She has finally given in to the pressure."

Bhupathi, who partnered Mirza to the mixed-doubles final at the Australian Open, said she may play in India in future.
"It is not a permanent decision," Bhupathi said. "It is only this year she will not play in India.
"She has really been pained by all that has happened in the last few months. It is really unfortunate. We want that she should have the right frame of mind when playing in tournaments."

Mirza had told reporters on Monday that he had been "advised by my manager not to play because a lot has been happening in the past few months."

"Every time I have played in India, there has been some kind of problem. So we just thought it was better not to play this time," she said.
"It is not an extreme reaction. The controversies have been going on for a long time. It is not easy to deal with such stuff.
"I have gone through great lows in the last few weeks. It has been difficult to stay focused."

With Mirza opting out, the focus at the Bangalore Open will be on Venus and Serena Williams, who are due to make their first appearance on Indian soil.

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