Local crowd and Bollywood music greet Sania Mirza and Chinese partner Shuai Peng

The involvement of Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova (currently from the tournament however her chewing brand name ‘Sugarpova’ being sold like hotcakes) have undoubtedly brightened the joyful state of mind and spirit of the tennis fans at this year’s China Open, being staged in Beijing to coincide with the week-long National Day Holidays. Another highlight of the tournament was the collaboration of India’s Sania Mirza with house favourite Shuai Peng in the women’s doubles before they were knocked out by the top-seeded pair of Martina Hingis and Taiwanese partner Chan Yung-Jan in the semi-finals on Saturday.

India's Sania Mirza (left) and Shuai Peng of China during their China Open match in Beijing. Pic/AFP
India’s Sania Mirza(left) and Shuai Peng of China during their China Open match in Beijing. Pic/AFP Border tension Interestingly, the Indo-Chinese duo has been playing together for a while because Mirza’s split with Hingis and her subsequent failure to win a Grand Slam title with different partners. The current border stand-off between the two neighbours has certainly brought the tennis collaboration under the spotlight.Considering the newest geopolitical developments, it was quite intriguing that an Indian tennis gamer, who is married to a guy from her nation’s cross-border arch-rivals and China’s all-weather friend Pakistan, teamed up with a Chinese gamer to play in their yard. The number of Indians (including me and a couple of reporter pals), who existed at the Lotus Court of China’s National Tennis Center to see Sania’s semi-final match, were less than the variety of games one needs to win an embeded in tennis.Although the third seeded pair bowed out in the tie-breaker in a nail-biting semi-final but it was rather an experience enjoying the Indian and her Chinese partner, likewise a former World No. 1 in doubles and a Grand Slam doubles winner like her Indian counterpart, playing in tandem as a team and providing high fives to each other after each point. “It’s a good display screen of zhÅ ng yìn yÇ’uyì (China-India relationship in Mandarin),” mentioned my fellow Indian reporter, explaining the importance of the match.Cheer for Sania It was truly heartening to experience the local spectators clapping, and occasionally cheering, after every point Sania was winning for her collaboration. The icing on the cake was when the Hindi title song of Bollywood hit Dangal was being played loudly inside the arena by the organisers throughout the break between the games and the Chinese crowd spontaneously cheering to the song from one of their favourite motion pictures of the year.Eventually, the hot favourites bit the dust in Beijing however they have actually underlined that the spirit of sports transcends beyond the borders, emphatically highlighting zhong yin youyi.


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